NORFOLK -- Some 100,000 Navy sailors and Marines will soon be seeing a little something extra in their paychecks.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has approved a 25 percent increase in Career Sea Pay. That's extra money that deploying troops receive when they get underway. It's the first such increase in 13 years.
"I think it's outstanding," said Naval Station Norfolk Command Master Chief Tony Adams. "We're going to reward our sailors for their hard work and dedication."
The increase amount depends on a member's pay grade and years at sea. For an E-6 with ten years of sea duty, it will mean a hike from $465 a month to $656 a month.
"This increase is long overdue and is meant to reward our sailors and Marines from their continued sacrifices as part of 'America's Away Team,'" Mabus said in a statement.
House Armed Services Committee Member Randy Forbes of Virginia said the change is welcome.
"I think it's a great idea," Forbes said. "One of the things we just need to do is remember our men and women are fighting for us. They're deployed. Their number one concern that they have is their families back at home. This is going to mean a lot to them, but the second thing is, it just means so much to know that they're appreciated and we really do recognize their service."
The change will cost the Navy $66 million a year. It could be implemented as soon as June. It comes as the Pentagon proposes to cut housing allowances, funding to commissaries, and to increase fees for Tri-Care health benefits.
Command Master Chief Adams believes the new sea pay will boost morale and retention.
"It's definitely going to be a great incentive," Adams said. "If you look at it, it's a 25 percent pay increase on their sea duty. I mean, sailors are going to stay for that."