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Performance Evaluations in the Navy

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Navy performance evaluations come in two forms, enlisted performance evaluations and officer fitness reports. Because the U.S. Navy needs the most qualified sailor in each job, afloat or ashore, the Navy Personnel Command’s Performance Evaluations Branch ensures that those who select sailors for assignments have the most current information. For officers and enlisted men alike, evaluations give commanders the means to help a sailor grow, and inform the Navy of the sailor’s progress.

Enlisted Performance Evaluations

The most accurate performance evaluation comes from the senior enlisted person who directly supervises an enlisted sailor’s work. For sailors in pay grades E-1 through E-4 -- seaman recruit up to petty officer third class -- an E-6, a petty officer first class, or a Navy civilian employee of equal standing completes the evaluation. For petty officers second class and first class, a Chief Petty Officer or the civilian equivalent prepares the evaluation. Typically, the officer who is the sailor’s department head or division officer also reviews the report. In small commands, if the petty officer who prepares the report is the sailor’s direct supervisor, the report doesn’t need an officer’s endorsement.

Officer Fitness Reports

An officer’s commander prepares the officer’s fitness reports, or FITREP, of the officers in his command. In a presentation from the Naval Sea Systems Command, commanders are counseled to treat FITREPs as if the evaluation is a memo directed at the officer selection board, the Navy board that decides officer promotions, telling the board whether to promote the officer or not. NAVSEA says commanders should give the officers they evaluate, and the Navy, a frank assessment of the officer’s qualities.

Job Performance

Enlisted performance evaluations provide insight into a sailor’s strengths, weaknesses, technical skills and leadership: what a commander can expect from the sailor. They are job performance ratings. They also include recommendations about promotion or, as sailors approach the Navy’s up-or-out deadlines -- the point at which an enlisted sailor either receives a promotion or leaves the service -- their ability to reenlist in the Navy and thus continue their Navy career. Unlike an officer’s fitness report, an enlisted performance evaluation allows supervisors and commanders to provide junior enlisted personnel with the advice and specific constructive criticism needed to improve their military and job performance.

Fitness for Promtion, Not Job Performance

An officer’s FITREP isn’t, as NAVSEA says, an evaluation of an officer’s job performance. It’s a report on how promotable the officer is. NAVSEA also recommends that reporting officers shouldn’t commit "fratricide." They should remember that a bad fitness report, or one that doesn’t show continuous improvement, can kill fellow officers’ opportunities for promotion, potentially ending their naval careers. Even so, a commander’s first responsibility is to the Navy. If a commander’s frank assessment of an officer is that the officer should not receive a promotion, the commander must record that assessment in the evaluation. The NAVSEA report also cautions commanders that failing to promote a disproportionately large number of junior officers calls the commander’s judgment into question.


Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.

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