In April 2006, while the position of Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) was vacant, the Principal Deputy to the Assistant Secretary approved the establishment of the Army Sea Duty Ribbon (ASDR). Although its primary recipients are members of the Active Army, Army National Guard (ARNG), and U.S. Army Reserve (USAR), the ribbon can be awarded to members from other branches of the U.S. Military that fulfill the service requirements.

Eligibility for the ASDR is determined by length of qualified sea duty, which varies depending upon the component of the Army in which a candidate is serving. Active-duty Servicemembers must complete two years of qualified sea duty, with subsequent awards authorized upon completion of each additional two years of qualified sea duty. ARNG and USAR must accrue two creditable years in a U.S. Army watercraft unit; this has to include at least twenty-five days underway and an annual training exercise while underway during each of those years. Alternatively, they can also be awarded the ribbon for a 90-day deployment aboard a U.S. Army vessel (underway).

Mobilized Soldiers who serve one year of sea duty will be credited with a full year provided the above underway requirements are met. Finally, members of other Services are authorized the award based upon the same requirements for the component in which they serve (Marine Corps Reserve members must meet the ARNG or USAR standards, for instance).

For the sea duty to be considered as qualifying, it must be spent aboard a Class A or Class B U.S. Army Vessel. The different types of vessels and their classes are listed in AR 56-9, Watercraft.
Landing craft utility (LCU)-1646, LCU–2000
LSV, LT–800, LT–100, JHSV
All landing craft mechanized, sideloadable warping tug,
Small tug (ST) 900, warping tug, causeway ferry

Soldiers and other Servicemember may also acquire creditable sea duty time while serving aboard vessels of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Army-leased vessels, or foreign and non-military vessels. However, for the vessels to qualify, they must be in active status or in service, be approved for creditable sea service, and have a mission that has been formally assigned and is accomplished while underway.

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