Originally established by the Secretary of the Navy on May 28, 1986 announced by the Chief of Naval Operations in June, 1987, the Naval Reserve Sea Service Ribbon underwent fairly significant changes in 2014. These are delineated in an ALNAV that dated April 14, 2014, but was retroactive to January 1.

Besides changing the name of the award to the Navy Reserve Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the ALNAV revamped the service requirements from a cumulative total of 24 months of active or Selected Reserve service aboard a Navy Reserve ship, its reserve unit, or an embarked active or reserve staff to 90 cumulative days of OCONUS or underway duty while assigned to a deployable Navy Reserve or active-duty unit. Because the emphasis of the award is on service with Reserve units rather than Reserve personnel, active-duty members who are assigned to a deployable Navy Reserve Unit are also eligible.

Previously, duty in or aboard a self-propelled Navy Reserve ship, boat, or craft that was under the operational control of fleet or type commander qualified toward the 24 months of active service. Now, the emphasis is on the operational nature of the unit’s mission, with “deployable unit” defined as a ship, aircraft squadron, detachment, battalion, or other unit that operates away from its assigned homeport, permanent duty station, or shore-base command. Further, qualifying service was formerly heavily tied to attendance at drills; now it must be service carried out in an operational or operational support role.

Personnel are eligible for one award as soon as they complete the 90 cumulative days of qualifying service. There’s no limit on how long it takes them to reach that threshold, but they are limited to a single award per twelve-month period. They also can’t “double-dip” and use qualifying-service days applied toward this award for other ribbons such as the Ser Service Deployment Ribbon or the Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon.

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