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1985 marked a change in direction in the management of the nuclear submarine ofCicer community. New measures were called for to effect the improvements in accession and retention necessary to support the growing nuclear submarine force. In particular, the program had to address the shortages of experienced (0-4 to 0-6) nuclear officers and post-command submarine officers.

It was determined that an innovative approach had to be taken to permanently fix these problems. This solution would encompass the following:

  • A more effective submarine officer career development path.
  • A new approach in management or existing personnel assets.
  • Enhancements to Nuclear Officer Incentive Pay.

Refinement or the career development path resulted in the “split department head” concept. Under this plan most officers will serve two department head tours, each about two years in duration. For example, an officer might be Engineer Officer on an SSBN for two years and then become Navigator/Operations Officer on an SSN. This program is in effect and promises to vastly improve the experience level across the full spectrum or submarine warfare of our officers before their XO and CO assignments. The enthusiastic response to this plan from our officers is a clear indicator of the positive effect that this will have on our community health.

The larger accessions during the 1980s will allow virtually every junior officer assignment ashore after his first sea tour. The opportunities for personal and professional development at postgraduate school, instructor duty at Nuclear Power School, prototype, and submarine training facilities, as well as Washington and starr duty will reinforce the overall capability and experience level of our officer corps.

Nuclear Officer incentive pay which was last raised in 1981, had proven its value in retaining junior officers. But this incentive pay had eroded in value and did relatively little to address the severe shortages of experienced and post-command officers. A program was therefore developed that not only increases the value of the incentive pay (with built-in provisions for further increases should that be necessary), but addresses the entire nuclear officer community from new accessions to the critically needed postcommand officers. Highlights of the new Nuclear Officer Incentive Pay program are:

  • Multiple Continuation Pay Contracts (3, ~. or 5 yrs) to 26 years. Such pay to be raised from $7000 to $9000 per year.
  • Annual Incentive Bonus to be raised from $6000 to $7200 per year ($3600 ¬†for LDO/WO) and no longer billet dependent.
  • Accession Bonus is paid with $4000 upon acceptance, and $2000 upon completion of training (vice the previous split of $3000 and $3000).

Additionally, Submarine Pay has been improved such that it does not decrease after 18 years of service.

This program. which has been included in the FY-86 Defense Authorization Act, will provide us the tools to help solve our officer inventory problems today as well as the flexibility to prevent recurrence of these problems in the future.

I am convinced that this course will mitigate some of the problems in officer inventory management that we have faced for so long. We can build on the positive effects of an exciting career development path coupled with improved compensation to develop a more capable and experienced submarine force officer corps to serve the United States for many decades to come.

CAPT H. C. McKinney, USN

Naval Submarine League

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