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I just have a quick question! Does anyone know if they get mail while they are at sea? Obviously with Christmas coming I would like to know if he will get it while they are under-way or if they wait til they port. Any help would be great!

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Yes they get mail at sea, but hate to say this the date has passed for you to mail them things and for them to get them before Christmas.  Mail can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to get to the ship.


I orginally wrote this for my active duty and veterans attention since it really means alot to us sailors.  But after thinking about it more, I thought I'd just address it to everyone.  I know you mom can't/won't understand the whole post but I think you'll get most of it. 


I will also add a test question just to make it fun.  I am trying to located the newspaper article link concerning this subject, but I haven't found it yet.  Just so you have a copy. 

Beleive me, your sailor will think this is so cool. 


Guaranteed, you parents/spouses/GF/BF will know more about the Navy (probably even more than your sons/daughters/spouses).

Hope you guys will appreciate it.... and dang it, I hope I find the newspaper.....
Active Duty & Vets,
I know you love hearing new sea-stories and will appreciate seeing this….


I was explaining to a new sailor about how we get mail while we're at sea and 1000's of miles from anywhere. He was amazed that the P-3 Orion’s can drop the Mail Buoy's in the water and how we pick them up. Then low and behold... Today, the Navy had a press release that the old Mail Buoy's are being replace and deployed with new ones. They say it might take several years to replace all of them, but this is a good start....This is great news for our new Sailors!!!!! Woo-hoo.....


They said that the old way of getting strapped in his kapok life jacket, having the big grey & cumbersome phone talking helmet on, having Mickey-Mouse phone talking set w/ the huge mouth piece was getting in the way and causing safety concerns.  They further stated, that the uniform of the day will still be required, and the pant-legs will continue to be tucked in.  You will still have those dorky black socks pulled up high over the pant-legs & onto the calves. But the crusty old boat hook is now replaced by a magnesium metal one which has less weight than the old one....


These new buoys now have radar beacons on them so they don't get lost.  They continue to say when the P-3 Orion’s drop them in the water the ships can locate them and come within 1000yds of them with the beacons.  Yea 1000yd, probably a number they give for OPSEC reasons….. (wink)


Man these new Sailors today get all the fun new toys....

You remember these old days?


Here is what they said the new buoys would look like, they said they would use the old ID-Ten-T Buoys, and put the old post office mail symbols signs (used pre-1994 era). This is kind-of what these new mail buoy's will look like once they are released (from  What is really cool is they say there are millions of old post office signs in a warehouse that were going to be melted down. Rather than waste the money to recycle a useful item, the Navy decided to take possession of them and use them. They realized that the buoys are always in salt water and will rust the signs and rather than buy even more new signs, they will reuse the old ones once they get un-serviceable, just put another one on.



Do you still remember waiting for mail and how the announce over the 1MC (Loud Ship Announce system) "NOW SET the Mail-Buoy Watch!! NOW SET the Mail-Buoy Watch!!" always brought a smile to your face, didn’t it?.....  What we Sailors do for mail!!!


Ok, now for the rest of you….
Today you’re going to learn something unique about us sailors…. This is how sailors get our mail while deployed far from land. The P-3 Orion’s will place mail into the mail bouys, and when they get close to the deployed ship, they will dump them into the water. The ship will pull up to them, and sometime they launch the motor whaleboat and pick it up. Sometimes just let the rescue swimmer dive in for it. 


One time when the water was really rough, we actually threw grappling hooks at the bag until we snagged it. But the CO didn't care much for that as the hooks have a tendency to rip into the mail bags.

Here's a real no sh*tter (for you newbie’s and wannabes, that is Navy speak for a Sea Story). We were in the North Atlantic and hadn't been in port for about 28 days. We received radio traffic that a P-3 was inbound with 18 mail bags! The mail buoy watch was set, as was the mail recovery detail. What a b*tch that was! Holy crap, we had green water coming over the fo'csle and it was so cold the sea water was freezing on the deck. We were taking 30-35 degree rolls when we weren't pitching so much you could literally step from one deck to the next if you timed it right. Nearly everyone was launching chow.


Anyway, we had the mailbouy watch tethered to a life line in a full exposure suit. The mail buoy watch was out there for about an hour and a half and only spotted two mail bouys. The Boatswaine Mate Cheif (BMC) was freakin livid. He started reading that Seaman (SN) the riot act. Well, come to find out, the P-3 was not able to drop the other 16 bags! Imagine the look on the BMC's face when he realized that SN had found BOTH bags dropped (very unusual for that kind of weather conditions). Well, the CO had the BMC wrote the SN up for a Navy Achievement Medal (NAM).  And they allowed him to eat in both the Officers Wardroom and the Chief's mess for a week.  btw: We finally got our other 16 bags when we pulled into port.


Ok, here is the question.....


1.  Has anyone ever received a Navy Life Saving Medal, which is an extremely high award, while on the Mail Buoy watch?

A.  No

B.  Yes (Hint, Hint, Wink, Wink, Yes is the answer).....



































Answer:  B. YES 

Ok, since I consider all of you guys part of my Navy family. I'll let you in on a secret. This is a secret that rarely talked about outside the Navy. Why would I tell you guys? Well, since I’m a Navy guy, I know the ropes and I can guide you on the quirky things us Navy guys do for entertainment.

As a Navy guy, we want all of our Sailors to fit in, and to be welcomed when they get to our ships. So to get them to know the crew we ALWAYS have them do useless things, just so they will meet the crew. The number #1 thing we do it have them do “The Mail Buoy Watch”. The mail buoy watch is just a joke, it doesn’t exist. We explain in detail on how we get our mail while we are deployed and how we get planes (P-3 Orions) to drop the mail buoys in the water.


We truly get our mail at sea by helicopter but mostly we just wait till we get to the next port. I wrote the above just to show you how it seems so real and fully believable.

These sailors in the pictures (on the link) are victims of our prank. We get them all decked out in all the weird gear that is never used. Then as they scan the horizon for the mail buoys, each of the crew will greet the sailor and thank them for doing a great job. This is how the Sailor will actually meet most of the crew. Yes, I know your thinking “That’s cruel”. Well, it’s not. Even the Captain of the ship is in on it. He will see from the bridge how the crew is bonding to the new Sailor and how they are becoming one of the family and team.

With my post, you can see alot of stuff.
~ If anyone ever tells your sailor “Here is a Sea-Story”. Well, if it is a Sea-Story, then it doesn’t exist. All sea-stories are made up. The better the sea-story, the bigger the eyes get for the new Sailor. So, in my example I told a believable sea-story and built it up so it was soooo real.

~ I was talking about the ID-TEN-T’s.  Well when you have them write it you can see this spells ID-10-T or IDIOT….. Why do Sailors do this? Because we are bored, we want the new sailors to forget about being homesick, and get them involved.

~ Usually a good sea story will start with “Here's a real no sh*tter”. That is the key word for the older crew to hop on in and add their items to the story to make it even more believeable. So, if it starts with that sentence, believe me, it’s all bs…..

~ Is there such thing as green water. No

~ Salt water is really hard to freeze to the deck, expecially when the ship is rolling 30 degrees.

~ When I wrote that the sailor will eat with the Officers and Chief... Nope, it will NEVER happen.  These two places are off limits to the crew.  A chief can't even invite you in without the whole mess agreeing, which never happens
~ Does everyone do the Mail Buoy watch? No, some Sailors go to really long schools.  They learn from the fleet returnees who talk about it. These guys then learn and are fully aware of it before they get to the ship.



When I was in Guam, in the Military newpaper the "Stars & Stripes" they had a front page article about a sailor receiving a Life Saving metal along with a Navy Commenation Metal (NCM) for his work while on "Mail Buoy" watch. Both extremely hard to earn.

What happened was he was decked out in all the garb, boot hook, life jacket, sound power phones, and binoculars. Every 15 minutes he would report to the bridge that no mail buoy sited. Then, he said, "However, there is a bunch of people on a tiny boat that seem to need help". He found Vietnamese boat people on a boat that lost it motor, and was sinking quickly. No one else on our ship saw them. Because he was on Mail Buoy watch, and was looking for the nonexistant mail bouy, he actally found these people. Without him, these 17 people lifes would have been lost (probably only had 30 more minutes to live) 

Again we do other thing to the new guys....  But this is probably the best one.... 

P.S.  Did you like how I photoshop'd the mail sign on the buoy....  I thought I did a great job.... Pat on the back for Craig....

This was amazing!!! I can't thank you enough for this!! Gonna be tough to not let in to my son but maybe I'll ask if he had mail buoy watch! LOL Thank you so much, Craig. I love hearing this stuff :) And yes, awesome job on the picture! LOVE IT!

Excellent explanation.  My husband, former Navy, agrees: mail bouy watch is extremely important duty!


That is a real 'no sh*tter'!! :) The seal lions were a nice touch too!! :)

Craig, my husband is an LS who was a PC before the merge. I had to show this to him. He got quite the laugh. Thank you for that.

As for mail it depends on so many things, where are they? How big is the ship? Is it an underway or deployment? So many factors go in to getting mail to a ship but yes all ships get mail. It is possible to mail stuff this week and it still make it in time but there is also the chance that it wont.

Thanks to All for the great information!

Check out this USPS link, Holiday Shipping and Mailing Dates (clickable link),  Depending on the place, you may be able to get a package there on time if mailed this week.

what about mail for the sailors that are on submarines. what about computers i know it sounds really stupid but how do

we communicate with them when they go out

You may want to join Sub Moms or Sub Wives and find out more there. Some of the Subs have a group, so you can check GROUPS: Listed By Name of US Naval Ships (actual US Naval vessels i....  (Underlined words winthin this reply indicate a clickable linnk.)

Not often on either.  They do get mail now and then, when they go into port.  That isn't very often.  The computer messages go up on a type of antenna, but they must be bear the surface to do that also.   So the emails go in and out in bursts, and must be plain text, no attachments, pictures, gifs or html formatting.  Just as on the ships, each message is screened.  

My nephew is on a sub.  His mom goes for weeks not hearing a thing when the sub is on patrol.  

Since I love Navy Trivia, I will post this....

So we are now talking about Submarines and Mail, so what better time than now to talk about "Missile Mail"


A Regulus I missile is fired from the submarine USS Barbero, June 8, 1959


On This Day: US Postal Service Attempts “Missile Mail” for First and Last Time


On June 8, 1959, a U.S. Navy submarine launched 3,000 letters via missile from Virginia to Florida.

“Missile Mail” Test Is Successful

There had been many amateur attempts at delivering mail by rocket in the early 20th century, most of which ended in failure. In the 1950s, the United States Postal Service partnered with the Department of Defense to create a missile-based mail delivery system that could transport mail more accurately than rockets.

The USPS and Defense Department ran just one test of their missile mail system; on June 8, 1959, the USS Barbaro Navy submarine, stationed near Norfolk, Va., fired an unarmed Regulus I missile holding two containers with 3,000 letters inside them. Twenty-two minutes later, the missile and its postal payload arrived safely at a U.S. Naval Station in Mayport, Fla.

Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield, who witnessed the event, considered missile mail the future. He remarked, “Before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles.”

History has proven them wrong, however. At the time of the launch, the Department of Defense saw the measure more as a demonstration of U.S. missile capabilities during the Cold War than a practical method of delivering mail.

The History of Rocket and Missile Mail

There were several notable efforts at rocket-propelled mail delivery preceding the U.S. government’s missile mail. In 1931, Austrian engineer Friedrich Schmiedl successfully fired 100 pieces of mail from one Austrian village to another.

German businessman Gerhard Zucker tried to popularize rocket mail in the 1930s.   although he had his share of failures. In one case, he tried to launch a rocket between two Scottish Islands but an unfortunate explosion destroyed the 1,200 traveling envelopes. British officials then proceeded to deport Zucker back to Germany for mail fraud.

In 1936, an American Legion Post in a Texas town attempted to fire mail into Mexico. “The first rocket blew up in mid-air, sending its contents raining down in pieces, writes the Smithsonian’s  National Postal Museum. “The second rocket landed on a cantina in Reynosa, fortunately without hurting anyone or causing much damage.”

A 1957 edition of Mechanix Illustrated magazine described the possible future of missile mail along with illustrations.



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