The Navy is introducing a new Senior Enlisted Marketplace next year as the service shifts toward billet-based advancement to address gaps at sea.

There are currently 9,000 sea-duty gaps, or empty billets, within operational units. Billet-based advancement aims to “reduce inefficiencies and align the talent to where it’s actually needed,” according to Rear Adm. James Waters III, director of military personnel, plans and policy.

“We’re hearing more and more from sailors that they want more control over their careers, where and when they move and how they promote,” Waters told reporters Nov. 21. “And we think billet-based advancement gets at that while also meeting the Navy’s need of putting that talent to work in the right places.”

The new marketplace is slated to launch in March in conjunction with the fiscal 2024 senior enlisted advancement cycle for promotion to E-9, and eventually will include E-7 and E-8 advancements and detailing.

“Billet Based Advancements are how E-5 through E-9 Sailors will advance in the future, where a qualified Sailor applies and competes for a billet requirement in the next higher paygrade within the MyNavy Assignment (MNA),” Vice Adm. Richard Cheeseman, chief of naval personnel, said in a statement.

The Senior Enlisted Marketplace Screening Board will conduct screenings of board-eligible E-8s who, if tapped, will gain access to the marketplace to apply for a qualified billet. Sailors have 24-months to enter one of 10 of the MyNavy Assignment cycles where they will apply for a list of jobs in the marketplace that are aligned with their ratings. From there, detailers will hash out the billet alignment and complete additional matching for the sailor’s next assignment.

According to Waters, this is designed to provide more geographic stability to sailors as well.

“We believe that because this results in a screen status with a two-year window to make a decision on when you play in the marketplace, that provides each sailor the ability to make the decision about what is important to them,” Waters said.

“So, we think because of this open aperture that we provide each sailor, [they will] individually be able to set what’s important to them with respect to geographic stability or other drivers in their lives,” Waters said.

“If selected, that Sailor will obligate service through the projected rotation date listed in the orders, be frocked within 30 days of transfer, and advance upon reporting to the job,” Cheeseman said.

All sailors recommended for advancement by their commanding officer and eligible will automatically be screened, rather than go through the traditional promotion board. If a sailor is not selected for an E-9 job within 24 months, he or she will undergo the next E-9 screening board.

The marketplace does not include sailors in the Command Senior Enlisted Leader Program, the submarine force, nuclear ratings, musicians, special warfare operators and special warfare boat operators, or Reserve component members.

The shift is related to the Navy’s Detailing Marketplace Assignment Policy — aimed to mitigate policy-induced gaps at sea — that the service implemented this year for sailors E-4 and below who completed a four-year apprentice sea tour and volunteered for another three-year journeyman sea tour as an E-5.

Those sailors were offered up to $800 a month in incentive pay.

The DMAP policy and incentives apply to the following ratings: aviation boatswain’s mate (fuel); aviation boatswain’s mate (aircraft handling); gas turbine system technicians (mechanical), and culinary specialist.

The number of operational sea duty gaps fluctuates based on permanent change of stations, ship decommissioning, or ships moving into a maintenance availability.

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