Navy Dads

STAR Reenlistment as pertains to Nukes: What is it, Pros & Cons

In order to help future Navy Nuke parents, I'm starting this topic on this 'discussion forum' hoping to capture and preserve relative information, as opposed to using the 'comment wall' feature where the information will be more difficult to find and follow as time goes on.

First off, I am no expert.  Any info I present has been gleaned from the internet, including the official Navy .mil sites and forums such as the Navy sub-forum at, and from a colleague who is a former Nuke.  Please point out any inaccuracies in my understanding!  I truly hope we can get contributions from participants who have first hand experience.

What is STAR (Selective Training and Reenlistment Program)?

Generally most military members who desire to reenlist may only do so shortly before their current contract is set to expire. The STAR program allows certain Navy career fields to reenlist as early as 21 months into active duty and to gain any reenlistment perks and benefits that their career field offers at a much earlier stage of their career. The STAR program is often associated with offers to attend advanced 'career' schools or training programs, as the Navy does not want to invest sending a member to such schools without their extended service.

(For this discussion I am using the term "Nukes" to mean those sailors who have graduated prototype training.)

In the case of our Nukes, they have already completed the STAR associated 'career' school requirements and for all intents and purposes are fully eligible with one exception that has to be met:

(Excerpt from MILPERSMAN 1160-100 which details the STAR program)

2. STAR Eligibility Requirements

a. Each applicant will

(1) be recommended by member’s commanding officer (CO) for career designation, have demonstrated above average career potential, and meet considerably higher standards for reenlistment than the minimum standards prescribed in MILPERSMAN 1160-030.

Perks given when reenlisting via STAR (for Nukes anyway) are advancement to E-5 and Selective Reenlistment Bonus (SRB).  This is not the case for all career fields, but is virtually a certainty for Nukes.

Reference Links:

STAR (Navy Webpage) Scroll partway down

MILPERSMAN 1160-100 (Referenced in above link, PDF format)

Career School Listing (Referenced in first link, MS Word .docx file)

Regarding Career School Listing:  If you are unable to read the document, rest assured our sailors are on it.  The following Ratings and NECs (Navy Enlisted Classification) are on the list.

ET-3353 Nuclear Propulsion Plant Operator Reactor Control

EM-3354 Nuclear Propulsion Plant Operator Electrician

MM-3355 Nuclear Propulsion Plant Operator Mechanical

Note, however, that once a Nuke receives orders, their NEC may change.  Submariners will keep the same 335X NEC while surface sailors will change to 338X.  This is important when bonus calculations are discussed.

BTW, Here's a handy link, specifically Chapters 29, 32 & 51:

Volume I, Navy Enlisted Occupational Standards, NAVPERS 18068F

How much longer are they obligated to serve?  Forgetting about the bonus for a moment, this seems to be the most frequent question.   When our kids returned from the recruiter's office, the pamphlets they brought home seemed to tell us that they would be able to add 2 years to their initial obligation and get a huge bonus.  In other words, 8 years total.  That's not entirely correct.  In fact, you restart your six-year clock when you accept and sign your STAR contract.  So if you're nearing your 3 year mark when you signed, you'd have a total obligation of nearly 9 years.  As my co-worker, who did STAR, states "It's as if they discharge your current contract and you start a new one for six years."

About SRB (Selective Reenlistment Bonus)

Calculating the Bonus:  The variables that go into the calculation are:

P = Monthly Base Pay Amount Prior to Reenlisting

X = Multiplier Value from Navy's published 'Award Levels' Table

M = Number of Months of Reenlistment Term

Bonus Amount = P * X * M / 12   (May be limited by a $ cap )

P is easily determined.  Military pay charts are all over the web.

X comes from NAVADMIN 081/14 (SRB Policy) (as of the date of this post)

Locate the row with your Nuke's Rating and NEC number based on the info above.  There may be multiple rows.  If so, select the one with a valid number and not '*' in the Zone A column.  Zone A is for first termers (2-6 years).  That number is the 'multiplier'.  Their Rating will have NSW or NSS appended on it.  Don't worry about that.  Matching the NEC is important.

Also notice in the Table that there are 'Award Ceilings' (Caps) listed as well.

Here are the pertinent values for freshly minted Nukes:

Rating/NEC Multiplier Cap
ET-3353 12.0 $100K
MM-3355 11.0 $100K
EM-3354 9.0 $75K
ET-3383 9.0 $75K
MM-3385 8.5 $75K
EM -3384 7.5 $75K

M is somewhat confusing in how it's determined for Nukes.

M = 24 + (Number of Full Months of Active Duty Served to Date)

The above is a simplification of M = 72 - ( 48 - (Full Months Served) )

If anyone desires further explanation regarding this odd equation, please ask.  Otherwise, it's a lot to explain.  Also, I'll be glad to work up examples if requested.

Pros/Cons - I'll edit and add my two cents when I get time, but I'm sure this matter will ultimately be the main focus of this discussion thread.

Views: 15809

Replies to This Discussion

I've taken the liberty of pasting some pertinent comments from the 'comment wall' into this discussion thread:

Comment by B'sNukemom&dad⚓️Prototype1401S8G 2 hours ago

JoeM - I was talking to my son the other night about the STAR re-enlistment (he's not to that point yet) and was talking about how I have heard some say not to do it until they have at least been to the fleet. My son said that's not a big concern because the re-enlistment adds 2 years on to your contract and those 2 years are at the end - which is shore duty. Is this the case? As I said before I am very interested in this discussion so I will look forward to it!

Nice to know your son will get leave the same day....remind me - is your son in GC or BS?


Comment by Bubblehead 2 hours ago

My son has been in the fleet (fast attack)for over 1.5 years, and has found that he's glad he did not extend prior to getting to the fleet. His job/environment is vastly different than what he expected. As it stands now, he'll probably leave after his 6 years are up.

Don't get me wrong -- his time in the navy has been very good for him (growing up, learning to work hard, Hard, HARD & saving money for school when he's out). It's just that he doesn't have a life.

I'm glad he went in (he needed it), but I don't expect him to stay. I did the same thing -- 6 years & out, then to college.

Encourage your son see what the job is like before adding time to it.


Comment by Ward Baxter 2 hours ago

Encourage your sailors (or look yourselves) at a site called You'll find a lot of information on there about life as a first term nuke. It can be a pretty grim existence until around the end of a first enlistment. I'd echo what Bubblehead says and preach patience to your young nukes.


Comment by Mike K 2 hours ago

I have to agree with Bubblehead about extending before the sailor gets to their command. My sailor's experience is very similar. He seriously considered extending early on, they make it very tempting. His attitude changed the longer he has been on his boat. He has less than a year left but decided against extending after a year or so on

his boat. He is lucky he is married with a very understanding wife(Army brat). His experience has been great and he wouldn't change it but as he grew in the Navy he realized this was not a career place for him which if you extend too early you do not realize and are stuck. Also, he was just promoted to EMN1 yet in their wisdom, the Navy will not start the new pay for 6 months. Just another disappointment

Joe - thanks for putting this together. Yep this was what I was afraid of - son is only thinking about the bonus and not seeing the big picture.  I will definitely look at Ward and also pass that on to my son. As I said he still has some time as he is only about 9 weeks into proto but I want him to do some research before he makes up his mind!

Looking forward to hearing of others experiences.


You did a great job on this. Thanks brother

Here is my perspective as a currently enlisted nuke who has been in almost 11 years.

To the person who said your son is ok with adding two years because that is just shore duty..... that is waayyyyy wrong in a lot of cases. A nuke usually gets to the fleet with 2 years in, especially right now with the long hold ups at prototype. A first year sea tour is 54 months which puts those individuals at 6.5 years, already eating into that extra two years which they thought was shore duty. Then, shore duty is 36 months, 40 if going to prototype. But wait, your sailor doesnt have that much time left in, does that mean they get to do a short shore duty then get out? NOPE!

They will be required to either then reenlist again or extend to give them they minimum required time to do it. Don't wanna add even more time? Well then you just locked yourself into at least a couple more years on a boat.

Also yes I highly agree that they should wait and experience life in the fleet before making the decision. A lot of people see the big dollar signs and go for it. Unfortunately it is hard to keep nukes. That is why big navy reels them in with the large bonus and letting them reenlist before experience real navy life out in the fleet (which is the time when most individuals see that they dont like the job they have chosen)

This is good information. Thanks everyone! Jeremy McElroy, thanks for your input, too. Curious as to the reason(s) for your staying in as a Navy Nuke for 11 years, so far?

I have it on good authority that the Sailors currently in A School are being advised by their POs to wait until after their first Sea Duty before re-enlisting. They are also being advised, again from the voice of experienced POs, to delay getting married until after a first sea tour. This gives them a chance to see how their potential spouse handles that situation/stress.

It's good to hear that they are getting some sound advice.

Good advice but.... Here's the story.  My son got engaged to another Navy Nuke.  They were planning on waiting until after the first deployment to get married.  Here's the deal the Navy does not recognize engagements as long term, so will not guarantee the happy couple will be stationed in the same place or even region. In order to be stationed in the same zip code they need to be married.  Did I mention I have a new daughter-in-law?

Extenuating circumstances sometimes require adjustments. Congrats!

Was speaking with sailor last night (he's halfway through proto in BS) and the question came up about re-enlisting in "international waters" so they don't get taxed......Does anyone know the specifics of this and what actually qualifies as "international waters"?

My understanding is designated 'combat zone', not just 'international waters'. 

Combat Zone Exclusions

My former Nuke co-worker says he reenlisted and then found himself in a combat zone 3 weeks later.  

Thanks Joe - I just forwarded this info to my son so he can do a little more research!

I missed getting my first Re-Enlistment bonus tax-free by 3 days!!
Joe M said:

My understanding is designated 'combat zone', not just 'international waters'. 

Combat Zone Exclusions

My former Nuke co-worker says he reenlisted and then found himself in a combat zone 3 weeks later.  



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