ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has approved a new early-out option for many sailors due to get out of the service before Oct. 1.

The “Early Transition Program” allows certain sailors to leave the Navy, but they must go by Aug. 15, said Master Chief Petty Officer Doug DeVault, an enlisted manpower manager for Navy’s chief of personnel.

Sailors whose active contract ends before Oct. 1, the start of the military’s new fiscal year, are eligible to apply, said DeVault. It could shave as much as six months off of contracts for those who apply now.

The program expands an existing policy that allows sailors to leave the Navy, with their commander’s permission, as much as 90 days early.

Traditionally, early-out requests must be linked to a set of approved reasons, such as plans to go to college. That’s not so with the new policy. Sailors don’t need a reason, but their boss still has to give the OK.

Unit commanders will still be able to disapprove requests, he said, but even if the commander approves, final approval rests with Navy headquarters.

Sailors in a few specialties, however, are not eligible, DeVault said. Excluded are:

Specialties with Selective Re-enlistment Bonus. “If a sailor is SRB eligible or currently drawing an SRB, we’re not letting them go. That’s a critical skill and we need those people to stick around,” DeVault said.Special Operations. SEALs, Explosive Ordnance Disposal experts, Special Surface Warfare Combatant Crewman and divers are not eligible.Nuclear. Anyone with a rating in nuclear propulsion systems is not eligible.Stop-loss ratings. While the Navy currently has no specialties affected by stop loss, officials “threw this in as a catch-all, in case we do have another stop loss,” DeVault said.Commanders who sign off on requests likely won’t see that sailor’s replacement quickly.

“The CO has to agree to gap the billet up until the sailors projected rotation date or their [end of active service obligation date],” DeVault said.

The new policy follows a similar extended transition program offered last year that saw some 1,250 sailors get out a few months early. Because last year’s offering included sailors with end-of-service dates that went into this year, many that might have been interested have already signed up, he said.

Officials estimate about 500 sailors will take advantage of the new program. “But that’s by no means a quota,” he added.

The early out offering also comes as the Navy is preparing to cut its force levels by 13,000 sailors next year. Officials hope it will help start whittling down those numbers now.

“As we get smaller, the jobs go away. If the member is in an excess billet out there, there’s really no sense in him sticking around,” DeVault said.

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