Sailors man the rails aboard the USS Bunker Hill as the guided-missile cruiser pulls into Da Nang, Vietnam, March 5, 2020.

Sailors man the rails aboard the USS Bunker Hill as the guided-missile cruiser pulls into Da Nang, Vietnam, March 5, 2020. (Nicholas Huynh/U.S. Navy)

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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — An order to stop all personnel movement to curb the coronavirus’ spread has prompted the Navy to offer a deal to sailors leaving the service in the coming year.

Sailors scheduled to exit the Navy or retire before April 2, 2021 may apply to extend their service by six months to a year, according to a Navy memorandum issued March 20.

The Navy on March 21 announced a 60-day halt on all travel, including personnel moving to new assignments. The order will expire on May 11 but leaves open the possibility that some critical job vacancies during that period will go unfilled.

The decision to offer extensions was made to mitigate the effects of coronavirus on the Navy “and maintain operational, sailor and family readiness,” according to the memo.

Not all sailors who apply for the extension will be approved. Priority will be given to those in “sea duty and critical billets,” according to the memo. Requests will be considered until July 1.

Also, sailors facing mandatory separation or retirement, officers who are not selected for promotion twice and those separating because of disability or misconduct will not be considered for the extension.

Additionally, the Navy in its memo invited sailors who recently left the service but are interested in returning to contact their local recruiters for opportunities to return to active duty. Twitter: @CaitlinDoornbos

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Caitlin Doornbos covers the Pentagon for Stars and Stripes after covering the Navy’s 7th Fleet as Stripes’ Indo-Pacific correspondent at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Previously, she worked as a crime reporter in Lawrence, Kan., and Orlando, Fla., where she was part of the Orlando Sentinel team that placed as finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. Caitlin has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas and master’s degree in defense and strategic studies from the University of Texas at El Paso.

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