Tens of thousands of sailors hoping to earn the petty officer crow this year will now be judged largely on their job performance, rather than advancement exam scores.
The Navy on Monday announced that it was cancelling the E-4 advancement exams for active-duty and full-time support sailors that were set to take place May 21. With 20,000 sailors set to take the exam, leaders determined it wasn't safe to hold them during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Execution of the exam in May presents high risk to the force," Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John Nowell, the chief of naval personnel, wrote in a service-wide administrative message announcing the change.
The exams had already been delayed once by the global pandemic, as they're typically taken in big groups on ships or on Navy bases. Now that they're canceled, job performance will be the greatest factor in determining which E-3s get promoted to petty officer third class.
The advancement exams typically make up 47% of an E-3's final multiple score; job performance is 38%. Now, job performance will make up 72% of an E-4 hopeful's score.
Other factors at play will include awards, pass not advanced points, service in paygrade, and education.
Military.com reported last month that as many as 159,500 sailors and officers could see their promotions delayed by the coronavirus as the Navy canceled or postponed selection boards, advancement exams and drill weekends.
Sailors hoping to make E-5 or E-6 will still need to complete advancement exams to be eligible for promotion. Most of 70,000 sailors required to take those tests have already completed them, Nowell wrote.
Of the 5,000 make-up exams needed, leadership believes they can be administered following proper social-distancing guidelines, he added. Commands have from May 21 to June 3 to hold those exams.
The Navy has been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, it has deployed some of the most aggressive mitigation policies terms to help prevent the disease's spread.
The Navy was the first to announce it was relaxing hair regulations to cut down on the number of visits sailors and officers need to make to salons and barber shops. It has also canceled physical fitness tests and, like the other branches, temporarily halted shipments of new recruits at boot camp.