The Navy’s special warfare community is offering fat paydays to senior-enlisted SEALs and special warfare boat operators to keep them in the service, according to a Navy message, or NAVADMIN, released to the fleet earlier this month.

Those eligible for the retention bonuses must be an E-7 or above and have 20 to 28 years of active duty service, according to the Jan. 10 NAVADMIN, which you can read here.

They must have the 026X special warfare operator or 052X special warfare combatant-craft crewman operator classifications.

Sailors at the E-7 rank are eligible to receive up to $80,000 in retention bonuses over 20 to 24 years of active service, doled out over four years in $20,000 increments, according to the NAVADMIN.

Sailors E-8 and above are eligible to receive $50,000 in retention bonuses for 24 to 26 years of active service, while sailors E-9 and above can get up to $100,000 for 26 to 30 years of active service.

Personnel will need to get a recommendation from their commanding officer to be eligible, and those with documented misconduct or subpar performance will not be considered, the NAVADMIN states.

Eligible sailors can start signing their contracts to get the bonuses in their 19th year of active service, with payments beginning in year 20.

This retention bonus program is a renewal of a prior bonus program, according to Naval Special Warfare Command officials.

Spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Kara Handley noted that Naval Special Warfare Command has an average retention rate of 79% for sailors with more than 20 years in, while the Navy overall averages 42% retention for those with more than 20 years of service, and that such bonus programs help keep highly experienced sailors around.

“NSW’s senior enlisted bonus programs are critical to community health, and such bonuses allow the Navy to contend in a competitive marketplace that may pull away highly trained, experienced and hard-to-replace talent,” Handley told Navy Times. “We cannot execute our mission without our people.”

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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