Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Friday, September 03, 2010

SSIP Changes

In NAVADMIN 293/10, the Navy changed the focus of the Submarine Service Incentive Pay (SSIP) Program. The previous requirements can be downloaded from here; here's an explanation of the changes. Excerpt:
After a careful review of the SSIP program, retention trends, and Submarine Force manpower requirements, the Navy determined that an adjustment to the program was required to target a different officer demographic. The goal now is to improve retention of Commanding Officer Submarine Support (COSS) personnel between 20 years of service and 25 years of commissioned service, which ultimately improves the overall health of the submarine force.
"These officers are in extremely high demand in the private sector and we must be able to compete to retain them -- not just for their knowledge, but the leadership they bring to the submarine community," said Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, chief of naval personnel.
Although COSS personnel are no longer qualified for nuclear duty, they possess extensive experience in submarine operations and can continue to provide valuable submarine support functions both at sea and ashore.
New SSIP contract rates have been targeted with contract awards at $15,000 for one year, $20,000 annually for two years and $25,000 annually for three years.
To be eligible for the SSIP, applicants must possess the 1120 designator, must currently serve in pay grades O-5/6, be worldwide assignable, and must be previously nuclear trained and screened for COSS, among other qualifications. Those officers currently under an SSIP contract, who do not meet the new eligibility requirements, will have their contracts honored but will be ineligible for new contracts.
It used to be that SSIP was for O-4 through O-6, so it basically looks like they're taking it from being available for XOSS types and limiting it to be available only to COSS-screened officers.

When I got medically disqualified from submarines as an XO-screened officer, I was kind of surprised to find that I wasn't eligible for SSIP; it seemed to me that having asthma wouldn't remove all the knowledge I had that the submarine force seemed to need only a few short weeks before. I kind of understood the rationale that they didn't want to reward people who shopped for a medical disqual because they didn't want to go out on submarines anymore. Still, I was a little pissed off to see some of the idiots (my opinion, not based by actual facts) who were collecting SSIP while I wasn't. Since I was retiring soon anyway, I didn't think much about it otherwise.

What do you think? Is it a good change? Or should they get rid of the program entirely?


Anonymous SubIconoclast said...

If inadequate pay is an excessive disincentive for serving officers with a certain skill set, then by all means offer additional pay to reduce the disincentive (however much is necessary to retain more folks) for ALL officers qualifying for the additional pay. Crafted as a program to reduce disincentive, you're still trying to retain the right folks for the right reasons while reducing competing factors. Trying to use money as the primary retention carrot, however, tends to keep the wrong folks for the wrong reasons.

I think the contract bonus structure reduces commissioned officers to the ethical equivalents of professional athletes, corporate execs, and other such prostitutes. Even though losing COPAY would hurt, I can't say I approve of the structure of our current retention programs.

9/03/2010 1:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a lot of people lately who've been deciding that they don't really need that medical disqual that they asked for a few months ago, now that they've seen what the job market is like..

The Navy is under a lot of pressure to cut the personnel budget at a time when nobody wants to leave. They're trying to make the cuts as painless as possible for the sub force. Worst case, this drives out people who aren't superstars anyway and helps them cut manning levels.

9/03/2010 1:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are we throwing bonuses at people who are basically being assigned to permanent shore duty? I think the navy does a lot of its incentive and bonus pay in the wrong should be merit based partly, not entirely based on how long you are willing to be a warm body filling a billet. I know several individuals who screened COSS that "transferred early" from their XO tours, have no business being considered for CO and probably couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag, and are essentially robbing the taxpayers by being over paid desk jockeys. It's time to cut the dead weight, not throw money at it.

9/03/2010 2:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the end, officers are just like enlisted...all about the money!

9/03/2010 3:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a lot of people lately who've been deciding that they don't really need that medical disqual that they asked for a few months ago, now that they've seen what the job market is like.

Not sure where you're looking, but if you're nuclear trained and can fog a mirror, there are jobs to be had.

9/03/2010 4:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @2:41 PM
"Why are we throwing bonuses at people who are basically being assigned to permanent shore duty?"

Because bringing women into the equation is "the right thing to do."


9/03/2010 5:51 PM

Blogger Old Salt said...

While we're at it, cut the nuc pay bonuses the Nav and Weps get for their (maybe) 2 watches a month, and roll the $20k into retention of the senior enlisted that hit 20 and split because we no longer care about them. With critical manning levels on EDMC's, ANAV's, and a couple more chronically undermanned rates what they are, revamp the program, and pay the top players (Officer and Enlisted) to ride submarines and do the tough jobs, not just hang out in an office until 1400 on most days. The perks of the shore duty job at a senior level is incentive enough.

9/03/2010 6:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"While we're at it, cut the nuc pay bonuses the Nav and Weps get for their (maybe) 2 watches a month, and roll the $20k into retention of the senior enlisted that hit 20 and split because we no longer care about them."

Loss of Big Picture Casualty.

But seriously, I do think that the incentive and promotion structures should be tailored to encourage (and reward) those who take the hard jobs of EDMC, ANAV, and post-EDMC/ANAV jobs. These days, it seems that EDMC is not considered the "pinnacle" of the enlisted nuc's career, and it should be. It is a great job.

9/03/2010 7:49 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Under the old SSIP structure, there was a strong financial disincentive for COSS to stay past 21 years: loss of COPAY & CONSUBPAY unless in a nuclear billet plus working for half pay send a clear signal that it is time to retire and seek civilian employment.

I can only take it at face value that the Navy wants to retain COSS for the reason stated by VADM Ferguson. Unlike an XOSS at 15 years who would probably have to have a lucrative civilian job lined up to resign his commission, a COSS at 20+ years is retirement eligible. The change to the SSIP program is clearly not a case of throwing money at an officer who was going to be retained anyhow.

It will be interesting to see what sorts of billets the Force envisions filling with 20+ year COSS. There are not too many of those in non-nuclear billets these days.

9/03/2010 8:59 PM

Blogger Chap said...

I think the tweaking for COSS is for overall control grade billet needs. With exceptions made for long term community structure issues, movements of financial incentives reflect where the PERS shop needs people in the short term.

The skimmers have the same problem, bad. They've got to fill a bunch of O6 billets, but everyone in the position to take some crap staff billet after command is well aware of not only the financial disadvantage but also the social disadvantage of being at terminal rank and filling some FO/GO's senior butt boy gig. Admonitions to service only work so much and can have the opposite effect.

So they've been cranking up not only the money in the surface force but also bringing 1117s back in to be O6 1110s, with entertaining second order effects.

I speculate that since XOSS doesn't make O5 in numbers, they figured they had enough of those guys to fill billets.

9/04/2010 1:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wake up Joel! 8 hours and no post on Boise State?!?!?!

9/07/2010 5:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That anyone with any type of bachelor's degree can become an O-1 and automatically be senior to an E-9.

9/07/2010 8:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work for an electric utility. Former submarine officers are sought after in our industry because they adapt easily to our systems control center operations. Our systems operations centers run 24/7 with rotating shifts. They tend to be built as closed environments with little or no natural light and have large computer displays for everything. However, they get to go home after their shifts end. Three of our last 4 hires were former Navy.

9/07/2010 9:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah its the same way at our electric company, anyone with a navy background is immediately put at the top of the list to be hired.

9/07/2010 10:10 AM

Blogger SJV said...

@ 8:07

O-1 has only positional authority over anyone. Common examples of this exist in all industries, where the MBA grad who never worked yet is hired to supervise the shift or factory. Not a problem in my mind. The chiefs run the boat, and anyone who doesn't understand the reality loses.

What's really stupid is that we don't allow the senior enlisted to qualify EOOW and OOD. Not all, but most chiefs would be better at both of these positions, the junior officers would have a greater base of experience on which to draw, and we'd reduce the boredom factor for senior enlisteds.

As far as the officer ranks and bonus programs go, why not run longer (or multiple) tours for CO's and XO's, and then just let them retire after their last CO tour. It would be a pressure cooker from a stress standpoint, but the guys who could delegate and lead would survive. The other guys (the screaming micromanagers) would quit. Don't give them any bonus. The satisfaction of command at sea should be enough to keep them in.

9/07/2010 7:09 PM

Anonymous t said...


I wonder if your experience is common. In my experience (limited, 1 boat) the Chiefs didn't really run the boat. They spent too much time playing poker. There were of course exceptions in that some chiefs were really really good, but overall, I'd have a hard time saying the Chiefs truly ran the boat. It wasn't incompetence, so much as the officers were basically required to facilitate everything due to a lack of big picture. I think the Navy has sort of created this eventuality by basically not trusting enlisted men to do anything without close officer/chief oversight. The creation of the monitored evolution database create a culture of overmonitoring and overtracking basically everything.

I can definitely see most nuke chiefs and really, even most senior 1sts as able to pretty easily qualify and stand a good EOOW Watch. I think most of the forward enlisted guys were pretty far away from being able to step into the OOD's shoes, however. The training pipeline just didn't adequately prepare them for the "big picture".

At the same time, I think almost every officer was pretty far away from standing Dive, FTOW, Radio Sup, Nav Sup, Quartermaster, EWS, and any other subordinate watchstations. I definitely think the submarine force as a whole would benefit from a broader base of experience, but there's only so much one can do in a 32 months JO tour... especially with all the BS admin requirements.

9/08/2010 12:36 AM

Blogger Old Salt said...

It would be nice to qualify EOOW and EDO (Again) We are allowed to do it at prototype, and skimmers can do it as well (actually, any multi-reactor platform) Definitely a high point in my carreer. It is interesting that the enlisted guys stand most of the watches at prototype and train the young officers, but can not do it at sea.

9/08/2010 2:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ ANON 9/07/2010. 9:47AM

I also work for a Utility (of sorts). Our process is non-nuclear (yeah!) focusing on gas (cheaper at this time, knowing GHG initiatives may change), coal (coke), and biomass. In my case I focus on enlisted Navy Nukes (prefer MM, I'll consider a SMAG if EWS). As the department manager I have hired several Nukes in the last couple of years.
There are many jobs out here, I would prefer more than fogging a mirror. We offer a very competitive salary and starting bonus(es) if you can negotiate. If I can get you without paying recruiter fees, I'll offer a better bonus.
I'm looking for a Team Leader and Process Engineer at this
Bottom line......there are many jobs out here (with bonuses).

Retired EDMC.

9/08/2010 7:45 PM

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9/16/2010 3:48 AM

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Anonymous Merilyn said...

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9/21/2012 12:06 PM


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