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Effect of Short Homeport Visit on Family Separation Allowance (FSA-S) Entitlement

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Question: My cutter is on a 34 day patrol. If we pull into homeport for a Brief Stop for Logistics (6 hours to transfer personnel, mail, get food) on the 19th day of the patrol and grant no liberty ... would the crew still be entitled to FSA-S?

Answer: Any return of the cutter to homeport will interrupt the 30-day FSA-S deployment counter and force it to be re-set to zero.

This seems unfair, and it probably is, but the law that authorizes FSA (title 37 USC §427) is definite about the requirement to remain away from homeport for a minimum of 30 continuous days. The issue of a short return to homeport has been extensively reviewed and the applicable case law (see 44 COMP GEN 324 decision) makes it clear that the 30-day counter for FSA-S must start over for any return of a vessel to homeport, however short the duration of that return. The law provides for no exceptions nor any discretion for the service or Secretary concerned to override or waive the continuous 30-day requirement.

If possible, deployed cutter commanding officers should try to avoid interrupting the 30-day qualifying period by arranging an alternate means for delivery of supplies, mail, or personnel transfer, such as an underway replenishment drill with an out-bound cutter (two birds with one stone - UNREP training & resupply) or by helicopter (if flight deck-equipped) if operations permit this.

Cliff Samuel
Pay & Benefits Policy Team Leader
Military Compensation Division
USCG Headquarters (CG-1332)

Continuous Period of FSA Eligibility

In the scenario described above, the cutter returned to homeport on day 19 of a 34 day patrol. The provisions for continuous FSA eligibility (per Coast Guard Pay Manual, COMDTINST M7220.29 (series), 3-H.3.b) do not apply because the cutter wasn't away from homeport for 30 days and the deployment following the interim period in homeport wasn't 30 days.

For payment of FSA-S during an interim period in homeport between two deployment periods (described in Example 1 of PAYMAN 3-H-3.b.), the following conditions must exist:

  1. The initial deployment period must be at least 30 days uninterrupted by a return to homeport;
  2. The interim period at homeport must be less than 30 days; and,
  3. The deployment following the interim period in homeport must be at least 30 consecutive days away from homeport.

Any return to homeport during the initial 30 days of the second deployment interrupts eligibility for FSA-S for both the interim period AND the subsequent deployment, and forces a reset of the 30-day FSA-S initial eligibility counter for the second deployment.