‘You’ve got mail!’: delivering to an aircraft carrier in the Pacific

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Everett Allen,

USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea – Almost every day aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), Sailors see their packages and letters come through the mail, but most Sailors don’t see the logistics, planning and coordination efforts involved in the mail delivery process.

With a high volume of mail coming and going from the ship, it takes the combined efforts of qualified and trained personnel to ensure the successful sorting and delivering of packages.

“We average about 21,000 pounds of mail a week,” said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Roberts, from Apache Junction, Arizona. “It takes a lot of planning, coordination and cooperation with personnel from George Washington and facilities from the receiving end."

According to Roberts, George Washington’s Post Office coordinates with the Fleet Mail Center to properly route incoming mail to Yokohama. Once the incoming mail from Yokohama is at the air base nearest to the ship, George Washington’s Beach detachment (Beach Det) processes and flies it out to the ship.

“After we’ve coordinated with Beach Det personnel to get an estimate of how much mail we’ll be receiving on the carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft, [the cargo] is then delivered to the ship,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman James Climer, from Edmond, Oklahoma. “After that, there’s physical labor involved.”

Teamwork is a big factor in transporting the mail from the flight deck to the ship’s post office. An assembly line of Sailors works cohesively to transfer packages from the COD, down a few ladder wells to the ship’s Post Office.

“It takes the efforts of Sailors from Supply department and various other departments comprised in a ‘Bravo working party’ to carry mail through the hangar bay and down into the post office,” said Roberts. “With everyone working together, the process goes by pretty smoothly.”

After the planning, coordination, and labor are complete, the ship’s Post Office takes care of the logistics.

“Once packages have been carried down to the ship’s post office, we scan them as ‘arrived’ in our system so that they show up on the U.S. Postal Service website as ‘arrived,’” said Climer. “After that’s done, we sort through the mail and put them in their respective boxes, and call ‘mail call.’”

To ensure proper handling of mail, only specific personnel can retrieve and bring it to each division.

“Only [mail orderly personnel] who are qualified and trained by the Post Office on board and authorized by the postal officer and their division officer are allowed to pick up mail,” said Roberts. “However, non-mail orderly personnel can assist the mail orderly. In any case, constant supervision is a must.”

Aside from inclement weather and “no-fly” days, there are common mistakes that will cause a delay in receiving packages.

“Using improper boxes, such as boxes that have not been properly marked out will cause problems,” said Roberts. “If you reuse a box, it is highly encouraged to cut a corner of the box, and turn [the entire box] inside out to place all non-related markings on the interior of the box.”

According to Roberts, shipping illegal items such as alcohol, or items that are against customs regulations for the receiving country are also factors that will cause a shipping delay or rejection.

“The easiest way to save time in shipping your packages is to check the regulations of the country you’re shipping to,” said Roberts.

For more information on sending and receiving packages, and for a list of shipping rules and regulations, visit www.usps.com.

Read more: DVIDS – News – 'You’ve got mail!'.