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ARLINGTON, Va. — Despite more and more sailors deciding to stay Navy, those seeking promotions still have a good chance of moving up in the ranks, officials said.

Roughly 25,000 sailors, or one in four who took promotion exams in March, will advance to the next rank, according to a Navy news release.

“The fact that advancement opportunity stayed nearly the same on this cycle in the face of such great retention is just further proof of the [Chief of Naval Operations’] commitment to growing the top six pay grades,” Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Adm. Gerry Hoewing, said in a written statement.

Nearly a year ago, the Navy announced a plan to go top-heavy in the enlisted ranks, channeling more money to grow its top-six enlisted ranks so that those sailors eventually will make up three-quarters of its enlisted force.

“Over time, we’ve come to realize we’re a force more technically oriented and we need a higher lever of expertise,” said Cmdr. Chris Arendt, director of the Navy’s enlisted plans and policies, said back in June 2002.

“The Navy should move that strength to more senior pay grades in order to man the more technically based ships and aircraft of the future.”

CNO Adm. Vern Clark set a fiscal 2007 goal of having 75.5 percent of all enlisted sailors within the top six ratings — an increase from an original goal of 69.9 percent, and up from the current standing of 73.25 percent.

The March advancement cycle for the bottom tiers of that plan, promoted nearly 11,000 E-4s, or petty officer 3rd Class; more than 8,650 E-5s, or petty officer 2nd Class; and about 5,300 E-6s, or petty officer 1st Class. The E-6 promotion opportunity is the second highest since 1991, with 13 ratings posting advancement opportunities above the Navy average of 19.52 percent, officials said.

Some hard-to-fill ratings within the service posted better than average promotion opportunities. Those ratings include master-at-arms, aviation warfare system operators 2nd Class, aircrew survival equipmentman 1st Class, and operations specialists 2nd and 3rd Class.

To get sailors to switch to those underpopulated ratings, the Navy has been offering Selective Reenlistment Bonuses.

A full list of advancement quotas from the March 2003 advancement exam (cycle 179) soon will be available at www.bupers.navy.mil under Advancements.

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