VBSS Personnel to Receive Hazardous Duty Pay

Story Number: NNS040112-06Release Date: 1/12/2004 5:01:00 PM
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By Journalist 2nd class Jason Heavner, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Following a recent NAVADMIN that announced hazardous duty incentive pay (HDIP) for Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) teams, Commander, Naval Surface Forces announced eligibility criteria in a message released Jan. 9.

Whether a VBSS team is conducting maritime interdiction operations (MIO) in the Persian Gulf, counter-drug operations in the Caribbean, or homeland defense patrols off the U.S. coast, members conducting boardings in support of the following mission areas qualify for the HDIP:

- Maritime interception operations, including those in support of Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terrorism.
- Counter-drug operations (CD OPS).
- Homeland defense.

The pay will be awarded as long as team members complete three boardings in a given month and those members are part of the VBSS team during the entirety of that month. Other conditions apply:

- VBSS boarding team members must be appointed and designated in writing by the commanding officer or on a command-approved watchbill.
- Team personnel must be qualified in assigned weapons.
- Team personnel must be qualified as second-class swimmers.
- As of Jan. 1, 2004, boarding officer/assistant boarding officer must be a graduate of VBSS boarding officer course of instruction (CIN A-2E-0085) (not required for back pay).
- Boat crew must be qualified in accordance with personnel qualification standards.
- Team members are not required to be graduates of VBSS/MIO procedures course of instruction (CIN A-830-0020) in order to be eligible for the HDIP, but shall be locally trained, in accordance with command directives.
- Training/Exercise VBSS boardings do not qualify.
- CRUDES [cruiser/destroyer] ships are authorized to pay up to 30 team members, including boat crew members (Coxswain, Boat Engineer, Bow Hook) involved in boarding operations. Amphibious ships are authorized to pay up to 15 team members (including boat crew).
- Boat crew members and other shipboard VBSS team members participating in boarding operations with LEDET [law enforcement detachment], NSW [Naval Special Warfare] or coalition boarding teams are authorized to receive the HDIP.

All commands with VBSS teams are now required to track and document their qualifications and eligibility. For retroactive eligibility, commands are required to document in a command letter, signed by the current commanding officer, by month, those members who are eligible for retroactive HDIP and verify at least three boardings conducted.

Sailors who believe they are entitled to VBSS HDIP back pay should contact the personnel office of the command to which they were attached while they were performing VBSS duties. Sailors that have transferred to a new command will still be paid VBSS HDIP by the ship to which they were previously attached.

Sailors who believe they are entitled to VBSS HDIP back pay while serving aboard ships that are now decommissioned should contact the appropriate type commander point of contact and provide documentation of eligibility. Documentation may include: watchbills, service record entries, evaluations, fitness reports, awards citations, qualification letters, etc.

Sailors who believe they are entitled to VBSS HDIP back pay and have separated from the Navy are still entitled to VBSS HDIP and should contact the personnel/disbursing office of the command to which they were attached while performing VBSS duties. If this command is now decommissioned, contact the appropriate type commander point of contact.

Personnel from the following decommissioned ships/crews may be eligible for VBSS HDIP:

- USS Anchorage (LSD 36)
- USS Arthur W. Radford (DD 968)
- USS David R. Ray (DD 971)
- USS Elliot (DD 967)
- USS Estocin (FFG 15)
- USS Fife (DD 991)
- USS Fletcher (DD 992)
- USS George Philip (FFG 12)
- USS Hayler (DD 997)
- USS John Young (DD 973)
- USS Kinkaid (DD 965)
- USS Mount Vernon (LSD 39)
- USS Nicholson (DD 982)
- USS Oldendorf (DD 972)
- USS Paul F. Foster (DD 964)
- USS Peterson (DD 969)
- USS Portland (LSD 37)
- USS Samuel Eliot Morison (FFG 13)
- USS Sides (FFG 14)
- USS Wadsworth (FFG 9)

VBSS HDIP earned while conducting operations in a tax-exclusion zone is also tax-free (may not apply to some officers) and will be paid in accordance with existing policies

For related news, visit the Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cnsp.

Boatswain's Mate Seaman Isaac Hollister from Dayton, Ohio, operates a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat
Official U.S. Navy file photo of Vessel Boarding Search and Seizure Team (VBSS), returning to the ship following a Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO).
June 30, 2003
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