Chinhae honored for excellence in retention
Getting fewer than a dozen sailors to re-enlist might not seem like a big deal at most U.S. Navy commands. But at tiny Fleet Activities Chinhae — with its population of roughly 200, including dependents — it’s enough to earn the Navy’s Retention Excellence Award.
The Golden Anchor, as the award is known, is awarded to Navy commands which meet or exceed retention goals from the previous year. Chinhae is getting the award for the third consecutive year, one of seven Navy commands in the Pacific to earn the Golden Anchor, officials said.
At a 1 p.m. ceremony Wednesday in the base gym, Rear Adm. Fred Byus, U.S. Naval Forces Korea commander, was to present the award to the Chinhae community.
To earn the award, a command must reach minimum goals of retaining 56 percent of sailors within their first six years of service, 73 percent rate of sailors with six to 10 years of service and 86 percent of sailors with more than 10 years of service.
“The big thing here is most re-enlistments are for follow-on orders,” said Chief Petty Officer Ron Smith, the Chinhae collateral duty career counselor.
To get choice assignments, sailors often will agree to a three-year re-enlistment, Smith said. Another attractive incentive is the Navy’s Selective Reenlistment Bonuses, which give sailors lump-sum payments of anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000, depending on time in service and job specialty.
Most sailors at Chinhae are on one-year, unaccompanied tours, Smith said. And the majority of sailors on base are first-term sailors belonging to the security forces and Master-at-Arms program — the Navy’s security corps. The base, about 250 miles south of Seoul, provides support for ships and personnel for the Pacific Fleet.
One of the Chinhae sailors who teaches others about the possible benefits of re-enlistment said he’d likely follow his own advice.
Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Sherman, assistant command career counselor, said he would extend next year after his two-year, accompanied tour runs out.
To stay in Chinhae for another year — a benefit for his wife, who is Korean — Sherman plans to re-enlist for another three years in the Navy.
“One thing about Chinhae is that, for fleet sailors, it’s prime duty. You’re off a ship, and it’s a great follow to sea duty,” said Sherman, who last was assigned to the USS Curtis Wilbur at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’re always busy here. But it’s a great environment, especially if you have a family and you want to stay overseas.”