NAPLES, Italy — Sailors from U.S. Navy bases in Europe will deploy to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in March to give a reprieve to U.S. soldiers currently guarding detainees at the U.S. military prison there.

The 12 sailors from European installations will join 35 Navy masters-at-arms from the Pacific bases of Misawa Naval Air Facility, Yokosuka Naval Base, Atsugi Naval Air Facility, and Sasebo Naval Base, officials have said.

Europe-based sailors will deploy for up to 290 days, while Pacific-based sailors will head to Cuba for 120 days, Pacific officials told Stars and Stripes last week. Officials in Europe do not know why the deployment orders differ.

The 12 sailors from Europe, nine of whom are enlisted sailors and three are officers, will receive one-week general custodial training at Navy Region Southeast in Jacksonville, Fla., before moving on to a two-week detainee training course provided by the Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., said Chief Petty Officer John Musser, a spokesman for Navy Region Command-Europe.

Also unlike the Pacific command’s contribution, not all of the Europe-based sailors are masters-at-arms; though all do have a Naval Enlisted Classification code of 9575 for correctional custody specialist ashore, Musser said.

“They have different rates and come from different commands, but they are a dynamic group of several enlisted [and officer] personnel from different ratings all sharing that NEC,” Musser said. For example, one sailor is a religious-program specialist in a chaplain’s office, but has NEC 9575.

Because they come from different ratings and different bases, their absence is not expected to adversely affect day-to-day operations, he said.

“We don’t want to rob Peter to pay Paul, but this is what we can do, so that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

No exact departure date has been set, Musser said.

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