Written by Kaye S.
Halfway Boxes & Mail Drops
A "halfway box" or "halfway package" is taken with the sub when it leaves home port. The sailor gets to open it on Halfway Night, which is usually a night of fun to celebrate being halfway back home. Usually, married sailors take their box with them when they board and single sailors' boxes are brought on board by others; but, each boat determines its procedures.
A "mail drop" only occurs if personnel or supplies are taken to the sub while out, and the command allows personal mail to go with. The sailors open these items when received.
(1) put you on his "Page 2" information; he'll know what that is (quoting Mark: "It's page two of his Enlisted Service Record, a folder that grows thicker and thicker over the years that he schleps from command to command..." )
(2) and notify the Ombudsman.
If your son is on a fast attack, packages can be sent to an FPO address for delivery to a port of call. This comes from the Ombudsman or the sub's office (look at the Page titled, "Command Hierarchy..."). Boomers don't make ports of call, so mid-cruise packages occur only with Mail Drops. While the boat is "in" (meaning at home), packages should be sent to your son's personal mailing address.
The size and limitations of packages may be different, not only from boat to boat, but even from cruise to cruise (same boat!). In the past, I've been allowed to fill a shoebox, or a gallon ziploc bag, or sometimes only an 8x11 envelope which had to be flat. The Ombudsman tells you the restrictions, her deadline for receiving it, and the address(es) to which it may be sent.
Be cautioned though, sometimes she won't know what's possible until too late for moms out-of-state to get it there (happened to me twice). You might be able to work a deal with her where you send her a pkg now (with non-perishable treats, etc.) that she'll hang onto until it's needed. Then you can replace that pkg with another for the next time. But, that depends on her ability to store them, how long she'll be the Ombds, etc.
NEX GIFT CARDS: An easy, convenient way to get your sailor cruise goodies is to send him a gift card to the NEX. You pay no shipping and he'll get just what he wants. PX stores (Army / Air Force) and NEX stores are run by AAFES, and gift cards to both are available at their website: http://www.shopmyexchange.com/.
At the bottom of the page, in the left-hand column, click on "Purchase Gift and Phone Cards." These cards are redeemable in any NEX worldwide.
Suggested Items for Submarine Halfway Boxes
NOTE: Always send items that are individually sized and/or wrapped, when possible. Check with your sub's Ombds before sending chocolate; some Commands do not allow it on board.
15-in-1 game set
Air fresheners (Stick-ups, F'breeze, etc.)
Altoids or mints
Batteries (AAA, AA, and D)
Beef jerky & Slim Jims
Candy (Twizzlers, gummy items, Skittles, Sour Patch, jaw breakers, jelly beans, & stuff that little boys like!)
Canned air to blow dust out of electronics
Canned chicken salad
Canned microwavable foods
Cereal bars / granola bars
Chap Stick / Carmex
Chewing gum (guys tend to like fruit flavors)
Cookies (anything little boys like!)
Dice and dice games
Dips in individual-sized cans
Disposable shower towels
Drink mix, sized for one bottle of water (Gatorade, Crystal Light, etc.)
Favorite TV series on DVD
Flashlights (small, penlight size)
Hacky-sack foot bags
Hard candy, wrapped (Jolly Rancher, Werthers, Life Savers, etc.)
Hot Wheels & Matchbox cars
Stick-on heating patches (Icy Hot, ThermaCare, etc.)
Inflatable seat cushions
Ink pens, retractable, NO CAPS (Zebra F-301 Originals, black ink, are highly prized & about $2.00!)
Instant oatmeal packs
Knot-tying book & two 24" lengths of rope
Koozies (the kind that flatten – to keep cans cool)
Little Debbie snacks
Magazines (must not have sexual content) – cars, sports, woodworking, photography, music, etc.
Non-refrigerated microwave food (pasta bowls, Spaghettios, chili, soup, etc.)
Newspapers (just send the section he likes)
Notepads of paper (5x7 legal pads are good)
Paperback books (or send a gift card for his electronic reader)
Pillows (camp sized in a stuff bag or inflatable)
Pillowcases (nice when homemade, with fabric chosen especially for your sailor)
Poker (electronic handheld)
Puzzle books (Crossword, word search, Sudoku, etc.)
Rice Krispy treats
Shoe laces for gym shoes and boots
Shower-to-Shower body powder
Smoked oysters and sardines (in cans)
Snack mixes (Gardettos, Chex Mix, etc.)
Spices (crushed red pepper, steak season, etc.)
Stress relief squeeze balls
Toothbrushes & toothpaste
Tootsie Pops & Tootsie Roll midgets
Trial sized bottles of shampoo or shower gel
Video games (know what system he has)
Ziploc bags (for keeping things airtight, watertight, and fresher)