By Debbie Gregory.
The Navy employs its personnel in a multitude of different jobs, called rates. Some of these rates spend a lot of time at sea, and some are mostly terra firma jobs. The Navy has a saying, “Choose your rate, choose your fate.” Some rates fate their sailors to sea/shore duty rotations of up to five years at sea (at least assigned to a sea billet) and two years spent on shore. For jobs that are assigned to ships, or units that are attached to ships, there is the ability to earn extra pay.
Career Sea Pay (CSP) is defined by the DOD as an incentive program that is “intended to improve retention of members in sea service skills and as recognition for members serving on sea duty for the greater-than-normal rigors of sea duty.” Sea Pay is paid monthly to sailors, marines and officers based on pay-grade and years of cumulative sea time. CSP is not part of a sailor’s or officer’s base pay, but an incentive for personnel to go to and remain at sea.
Again, depending on your rate, you could be standing twelve hours of watch, or more, each day that you are underway. Ships, commands and divisions split their shifts up differently, depending on the mission and the assets. Some Navy watch teams are known to stand watch for seven hours on, seven hours off, then five hours on and five hours off, every day, continuously, for as long as they are underway. Most rates don’t get days off while underway, and can go several days to a few months without mooring.
For the first time since 2001, the U.S. Navy has granted its fleet sailors a raise in CSP. The increase was ordered by the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, on March 4th . It will be a 25% boost from the current thirteen year old pay scale for every officer and sailor with three years or more of accumulated sea time. Navy Sea Pay has historically carried a premium, CSP-P, for sailors and officers who accumulate 36 months of consecutive sea time. Currently the CSP-P bonus is at $100. With the new standard, that rate will double to $200.
The changes will also affect enlisted members with supervisory and leadership roles. Sailor and Marines, in pay grades E-5–E-9 with more than eight years of cumulative sea time will receive the new CSP-P rate whenever they are assigned to sea billets, instead of requiring them to reach 26 months of consecutive sea time. The CSP maxes out at $750 per month for senior enlisted personnel and Warrant Officers.