YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A group of about 16,000 sailors being considered for involuntary separation from the Navy is being encouraged to convert to one of 15 undermanned ratings, according to a service-wide administrative memo released Wednesday.

Sailors who successfully convert will not undergo a quota-based enlisted retention board, which the Navy has stated will trim about 3,000 out of 16,000 eligible sailors in 31 overmanned ratings.

The first phase of the retention board, beginning in August, will consider E-4 and E-5 sailors. The second phase will consider sailors in the E-6 through E-8 pay grades in September. Results are expected by November.

Sailors have until June 15 to apply for conversion to the undermanned ratings and should be notified of their application results by July 15, according to the administrative memo.

The undermanned ratings slated for conversion are the following: culinary specialist, subsurface; cryptologic technician, interpretive; cryptologic technician, maintenance; cryptologic technician, networks; cryptologic technician, collection; cryptologic technician, technical; electronics technician, navigation; electronics technician, radio; fire control technician; hospitalman; information systems technician, subsurface; logistics specialist, subsurface; machinist mate, weapons; Navy counselor, career; and yeoman, subsurface.

In recent years, the Navy has experienced record manpower retention, officials stated last month. Meanwhile, a Stars and Stripes analysis of Navy data showed that retirements and separations plummeted 26.5 percent between 2007 and 2010, causing further overmanning.

To encourage conversions to the undermanned ratings, the Navy has waived several previous requirements; for example, sailors with more than 12 years’ experience will be allowed to convert, as will sailors with permanent change of station orders, according to the memo.

Sailors chosen for separation by the retention board must leave the Navy by June 30, 2012, or by Sept. 30, 2012, if they receive an operational waiver.

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