Policy: National Security

Navy wants to increase pay for sea duty

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Local,Virginia,National Security,Navy

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The Navy is planning to give tens of thousands of enlisted sailors who serve aboard sea-going vessels a bump in their pay, a Navy official said Tuesday.

While every sailor receives a salary based on their rank and length of service, sailors assigned to sea duty are also eligible for monthly stipends that range from $50 to $700. The Navy says about 75,000 sailors are eligible for sea pay at any given time.

During an all-hands call in the hangar bay aboard the USS Bataan at Naval Station Norfolk, Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran told sailors that inflation has eaten away into the value of their sea pay over the past decade. The Navy last adjusted sea pay levels in 2001. He said Navy leaders want to restore the value of sea pay by adjusting for inflation, which will likely result in a 25 percent to 30 percent increase in sea pay levels.

"It's long overdue, folks," Moran said. "We absolutely are convinced that it is the right thing to do for sailors who are committed to sea duty, who are out serving at sea. Especially when we're asking you to do the kind of deployments that we've asked you to do, in some cases 10-and-a-half months, eight months. We definitely need to compensate you more for the work we are asking you to do."

Six month deployments used to be standard length Navy ships were out to sea. But in recent years, many ships have found their routine deployments lasting nine to 10 months. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, the military stopped paying bonuses when deployments were extended because they became so commonplace. Ultimately, the Navy wants to see additional pay for lengthy deployments reinstated and for standard deployments to last eight months to give sailors and their families more predictability.

The exact amount of the pay increases for sea duty and their total cost for the Navy won't be released until Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has formally signed off on the deal, which Moran said is coming soon. The higher pay is expected to be doled out within months.

"It may happen before you leave, it may happen while you're en route, but it's going to happen pretty soon," Moran told the sailors amphibious assault ship, which is expected to deploy before the spring.

Eventually, the Navy wants to increase sea pay levels for officers too.

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Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis

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