Mounting concerns over the spread of coronavirus has prompted Navy officials to delay all selection boards indefinitely.

The decision was to suspend all officer and enlisted boards was announced in a message to the fleet Thursday by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John B. Nowell.

“To protect the health and safety of our force and to support geographical diversity of our selection board members, all promotion, advancement, milestone and other selection boards scheduled to convene on or after 24 March 2020 at Navy Personnel Command (NPC) are postponed until further notice,” Nowell said.

The move was approved in order to eliminate travel and large gatherings typical of selection boards held in Millington, Tennessee, a Navy release said.

It is estimated that nearly 160,000 sailors will be impacted by the suspension of advancements.

“I want to reassure every affected Sailor that we are committed to maintaining the sanctity of the selection board process and every precaution is being taken to ensure fairness and minimize impact to you and your family,” Nowell added.

Nowell indicated that the suspension of promotions does not mean new candidates will be added to the current list of eligible sailors. Additionally, letters to officer and enlisted boards are still expected to be submitted by the originally specified date. Sailors facing high-year tenure between July 1 and Nov. 30 remain eligible to submit high-year tenure waivers until the end of 2020, the Navy release said.

Naval Personnel Command will update board schedules and issue additional guidance as the short- and long-term effects of the coronavirus become more clear, the message said.

“Upon resumption, we anticipate boards will generally follow the original selection board sequence” to ensure “no eligible Sailor is disadvantaged by this action,” Nowell said.

Nowell added that the Navy is developing measures to ensure each sailor selected for advancement will eventually receive back pay to their retroactive date of rank.

For more, read Vice Adm. Nowell’s message here.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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