Frequently Asked Questions About Navy Assignments

Frequently Asked Questions About Naval Service

Young sailor in the harbor
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If you are considering joining the military (any branch) start your research and education long before you step foot into the recruiter's office. Your education into the Navy should not begin with the recruiter telling you what you should do in the Navy.  You should have a good understanding of what job (rating) you want to apply for - perhaps your top three to be honest. Too many people make a major recruiting mistake by not doing their due diligence into the opportunities available with military service. Do yourself a favor and start now. Start with this article followed by the official websites and forum groups of the service and the job you are seeking. Your experience will be much better if you know where you want to be placed versus getting placed where the Navy needs you the most. 

The Basics

There are many rules and regulations surrounding job assignments in the Navy. In general, sailors are assigned to ships or submarines (sea duty) for three years, and shore duty for three years. That doesn't mean that sailors will spend their entire three-year deployment at sea, since ships and submarines spend a large amount of time docked in their home ports. Though expect about half your time deployed or out to sea training to deploy. See the world - join the Navy!

Here are some of the most frequently-asked questions about Navy assignments. 

Shore Duty Questions

Q: How likely is it that I will be able to get an extension while on shore duty? 

A: These decisions are made by detailers, who are in charge of all assignments for a given job community and rate range. Although the detailer makes every effort to approve personal requests, requests to extend beyond the normal shore duty length are not usually approved, since it would potentially require adjusting another sailor's sea tour due to fleet requirements. 

Q: Can I go to a specific location for my shore duty if I want to be near home?

A: Very limited opportunity exists for shore duty outside of the normal fleet-concentrated areas. The availability of billets, the priority of those billets and a sailor's career path will be the primary deciding factors of their next assignment. However, there are recruiting duty opportunities in every state. If you want to get home or near home, it may require a recruiting duty shore tour unless you are from a place that has a major military base. 

Q: Can I go to C school en route to my next command?

A: All Navy enlisted jobs (ratings) have an A school, where sailors learn fundamental skills, and a C school, which involves advanced training for that job.

Most C school quotas are utilized to fill Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) requirements of a command's billet file. If there is a valid requirement for a new NEC and if a school quota is open in the proper transfer window then a C school may be considered en route to the next command.

Questions About Navy Orders

Q: When should I expect to get my orders?

A: Each detailer writes orders as soon as possible near the six-month window, so only a sailor's specific detailer can answer this. Most orders are in the sailor's hand within three weeks of being released by the detailer.

Q: When is the best time to call for orders?

A: Call on the first requisition cycle after you come into the nine-month detailing window. When you call early you have the maximum chance of getting your choice of assignment. 

Different Types of Duty

Q: Why are there six type duty codes but only five actual types of duty?

A: The former Type 5 was neutral duty, which did not count toward sea or shore duty. Neutral duty was eliminated by the Navy in 2000. 

Q: What are the different types of duty?

A: Here's a list of the different duty types, from the Navy website:

  • Type 1: Contiguous United States (CONUS) shore duty
  • Type 2 CONUS sea duty
  • Type 3 Overseas shore (sea duty for rotational purposes)
  • Type 4 Overseas sea duty
  • Type 5: Overseas shore duty

Q: How do I get considered for a Special Duty Program assignment?

A: Each rating detailer provides personnel to the special duty programs. There are parameters that must be followed by each rate/rating for each assignment. Discuss the special programs options with your detailer when you are negotiating your next assignment.

Spouse Co-Location Questions

Q: I just married or am going to marry a military spouse. Will we be able to be stationed together?

A: The Enlisted Transfer Manual (Art. 3.21) states that every effort will be made to allow military couples to move together whenever possible in the same manner as non-military couples. Both military members must submit an official co-location assignment request.

Q: When should a sailor submit spouse co-location requests?

A: Submit these requests 12 months prior to your PRDs. This allows detailers the maximum amount of time to work on your request. Attaching a copy of your spouse's approved request to yours  can help speed the process along. But remember, spouse co-location is not guaranteed. 

Other Duty Questions

Q: I was just advanced in rate. Does my tour length change to match my new pay grade?

A: Projected rotation dates (PRDs) are set for the pay grade you were when the orders were issued. They are not adjusted due to advancements or reductions in rate. 

Q: My detailer told me I was posted, what does that mean?

A: This means you have been placed on a requisition to hold that billet for you. It does not mean that orders have been issued. Once a billet has a posting next to it, others who may also want that billet are turned away. 

Q: What is a MAT?

A: MAT stands for minimum activity tour. This is the minimum tour length you have to complete before you can be transferred. Most commands have a 24-month minimum activity tour. This assures each command gets stability from your assignment.  Most sailors considering a lateral transfer into another rating are required to stay at their current command for the MAT time. 

Typically, most jobs in the Navy have a general pipeline of training and the type of commands that are available to any one's career. However, deviating from the general pipeline is possible and must fill a need or requirement for special programs, advanced education, or other special circumstances. If you can learn how the system works, you can make it work for you.