DECEMBER 15, 2016, ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) – Financial advisor Dave Ramsey said, “You must gain control over your money, or the lack of it will forever control you.”
As the crew of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) prepares to move to the Floating Accommodation Facility (FAF), Sailors will see many changes aboard the ship. One major change that will affect everyone is when the galley closes and George Washington begins commuted rations (COMRATS).
A major change associated with COMRATS is Sailors will receive Basic Allowance for Sustenance (BAS) because they’ll have to pay for all meals and have less variety in food choices.
Around Feb. 3, food service will open on the Floating Accommodation Facility (FAF) and COMRATS will begin. The current BAS allotment for all enlisted Sailors is $368.29 per month.
Some Sailors may be excited about the extra money in their coming paychecks, however, it is important that everyone budgets their money wisely.
“The big takeaway is this will require some budgeting on your end, as well as good self-awareness of how many meals per month you will be eating on board during work or duty days,” said Cmdr. Kerri Yarbrough, the supply officer aboard George Washington. “If you currently eat most meals on the ship while we’re in port and plan on using BAS to cover your food bill, you need to plan for the meals you eat on the ship, as well as the number of meals you will prepare for yourself in the barracks, or out in town.”
Although in essence, Sailors will be paid more while receiving BAS, they must be mindful of spending habits because all personnel will be required to pay for their meals.
“For those of you who are new to COMRATS, this will be a far different process than you are used to,” said Yarbrough. “All personnel will be required to pay for all meals, to include coffee and snacks using their Navy cash card.”
“In addition, there will no longer be grab-and-go fruit or cereal that Sailors can have at any time,” added Yarbrough. “This happens because in order to provide Sailors COMRATS, the Navy will no longer fund the ship for food.”
Meal rates on the FAF are as follows:
* Breakfast $3.45
* Lunch $5.55
* Dinner $4.85
“If you spend your entire BAS on meals on the ship, you could have in the range of 27 days of full breakfast, lunch and dinner on board,” said Yarbrough. “Please be careful, as other ships have seen Sailors spending far more than these rates out in town, and then finding themselves in a pinch, without enough money to buy food at the end of the pay cycle.”
While it is important to budget and prepare for the upcoming changes, Sailors should also be aware of the changes that will take place before COMRATS.
In preparation for RCOH, provisions for food service and vending machines will be heavily affected.
“S-2 Food Service Division typically holds $1 million worth of inventory on board,” said Yarbrough. “We are required to drop that by 90 percent by the time we transition to the barge. While we still strive to provide the highest quality meals, you may see a reduction in the variety served on any given day.”
In addition to food services decreasing stock, the ship’s store will also decrease their stock.
“Typically the store has six or seven beverage options,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Shandra McGuire, the leading petty officer of George Washington’s sales division. “As we prepare for RCOH, beverage options will decrease to one or two options.”
Although variety is becoming a thing of the past, all is not lost. Some items will still be available for special order.
“If a Sailor sees an item on the Naval Exchange website that we don’t have in stock at the store, we will still be able to special order it for them,” said McGuire.
While adjusting to the changes aboard GW, Sailors should continuously keep saving at the forefront of their mind. Once the ship is no longer in RCOH, or if the Sailor transfers to a new command, they may not receive BAS anymore. If anyone needs tips on budgeting or saving, they should contact their departmental or command financial specialist for more information.
By By Seaman Jamin Gordon, USS George Washington Public Affairs