Each day, sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis wait for an announcement telling them their mail has been delivered.
Logistics Specialist Seaman Devan Rodriguez, of Quanah, Texas, said these deliveries allow sailors to stay connected with their friends and families back home.
First, Rodriguez said, all military mail is screened in Chicago, Ill. If the Stennis is underway, a mail routing instruction is used to fly the mail aboard, or a fast combat support ship delivers it in what’s known as a “replenishment at sea” (RAS).
The mail changes hands many times before arriving at its final destination, said Rodriguez. Among these stops are foreign civilian post offices that aren’t associated with the U.S. military.
“We use kilograms instead of pounds because the mail is going to go to a lot of different foreign places,” said Rodriguez. “The ports that we’ll be in, for instance … won’t actually use a military postal service.”
Once mail arrives at the Stennis, processing begins. Rodriguez said it can be a difficult task as sailors sometimes order items online – heavy, bulky things like exercise equipment – and their families often send care packages.
Chief Logistics Specialist Marquest Tillery, of Knoxville, Tenn., said the postal clerks in Stennis’ main post office handle about 175 customer transactions a week. What’s more, a recent RAS included more than 900 kilograms of outgoing mail and more than 11,300 kilograms of incoming mail.
“We’ve got three guys who work down here and that’s it,” said Tillery. “These guys work hard, and they don’t complain. They keep their heads down and keep going.”