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My Coast Guard
Commentary | March 22, 2022

SWE point increase promised to cutter crews adjusted for 2022 exam 

By Kathy Murray, MyCG Writer

Enlisted members who have been continuously serving on Sea Pay Level 4 or 5 cutters since Oct. 1, 2021, will each receive one extra Service Wide Exam (SWE) point for sea duty this year. 

“This is a way to recognize the hard work, dedication and sacrifice from our cutter crews while executing our vital missions afloat,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason Vanderhaden.

The adjustment is being made to ensure the Coast Guard honors a previously approved incentive plan to help compensate members for some afloat assignments. Last fall, the service announced the most significant boost in SWE points in 30 years. But updating software in Direct Access (DA) to implement that program by the May 2022 SWE presented technical challenges, says Jeremy L. Bruner, Pay and Allowance Policy team lead. This necessitated a one-time stopgap measure. 

“We made a promise,” Bruner said. “We need to take the time to be sure we do it right, but we are going to provide an incentive point in the interim to maintain good faith with the field.” 

What’s changed? 

Under the original plan, approved October 2021, members would earn increased points for each 12-month period served at a Level 4 or 5 afloat unit, as noted: 

  • Sea Pay Level 4 Cutters – crew members were promised an increase of 0.5, for a total of 2.5 points, up from 2.0. 
  • Sea Pay Level 5 Cutters – crews were to get an additional 0.67 to 1.0 point, depending upon the type of cutter they were assigned to for a total of 3.0 points.  

Instead of receiving an extra 0.5, 0.67, or 1.0 Sea Duty point per year effective Oct. 1, 2021, members assigned to Level 4 and 5 cutters will get 1.0 extra point. 

So, for this year only, crews on Sea Pay Level 4 cutters and Level 5 national security cutters will be granted more points than expected from the October 2021 policy change. Sea Pay Level 1-3 cutter crews are not affected.  

How do I get the credit? 

Your command must verify you were assigned to an eligible cutter on Oct. 1, 2021, and served continuously through Jan. 31. Upon verification, the cutter’s yeoman or personnel and administration (P&A) staff need to enter the incentive point into Direct Access for you and each eligible member by April 1, 2022. Additional award guidance is here.  

Note: staff should use Dec. 31, 2021, as the approval date. They also need to enter the award code: ZZSWE1-SWE Incentive 1 Point   

Afterwards, you will be able to see an immediate update to your points on your PDE. You will not be required to submit a help ticket.  

Why did the Coast Guard choose to do it this way? 

Setting up Direct Access to accurately calculate Sea Duty SWE points is a complex process that could take between six months and a year. Due to the tight timeline as well as prior experience – which led to improperly computing points for advancement – the service opted to use the system’s existing incentive point functionality to award additional points this year. Because DA does not support entry of half points, Bruner said, all eligible members are to receive an incentive of one point for this year only. This will be corrected in the future to align with the October 2021 SWE point policy change. 

Where can I go if I have questions? 

Please email the Office of Military Personnel Policy (CG-133). 

Recent news 

SWE point increase instituted for cutter crews