The NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Regional Navy Mail Center (RNMC) Postal Inspection and Training Team recently provided critical training for ships prior to their deployments.
While training of this nature is normally routine, new challenges exist as the respective ships were operating in an extended “bubble” which limits contact with personnel outside the command to protect readiness and mitigate the spread of CoVID.
When a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) or Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) prepares for a deployment, the Postal Inspection and Training Team normally conducts a full day of pre-deployment postal training for the respective CSG or ARG. “We conduct training in the RNMC classroom or onboard a ship,” explained RNMC Deputy Director Jeff Gibbs. “We provide cradle to grave postal product training from basic mail services up through supervision and management services and requirements. Every Navy deploying asset receives comprehensive training from our team so that they may provide successful postal services for their crews during an away from home, deployed environment.”
With all crew members restricted to the ship under pre-deployment COVID-19 protocol, Sailors couldn’t attend classes at the mail center. To ensure all deploying ships would have the appropriate training prior to leaving homeport, two RNMC postal advisors received special permission to enter the shipboard bubble environments in order to provide training aboard ship with the ship’s postal team.
In all, they conducted 17 different pre-deployment training sessions. Each deploying ship also received individualized postal refresher training with their assigned Postal Petty Officers and Postal Officers to assist them in providing postal services for their crew members. “We also provide them with guides, checklists and step by step processes that they can bring with them to assist with their missions,” sail Gibbs. “We use all tools available to be able to reach out to our shore and fleet supported customers to provide them the knowledge and guidance needed to conduct any and all mail services for their commands.”
This training was vitally important for the postal crew aboard USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51), as they were facing a homeport change to Rota, Spain. “Their postal operation will be providing mail services as if in a deployed status at all times,” explained Gibbs. “They will be providing full service postal operations, unlike what they do in a CONUS homeport. The Arleigh Burke supply officer specifically requested training from the Postal Inspection and Training Team because they had an inexperienced postal officer and postal petty officer. It was especially critical for them to receive the training prior to their homeport change. The valuable knowledge they gained builds confidence in our deploying supply officers and postal divisions while they are away from their normal resources.”
Gibbs added how proud he is of the Postal Inspection and Training Team for always being ready with the most current information available. “I am extremely proud of the team,” said Gibbs. “They do a lot of extra preparation and always keep up with changes as processes continuously evolve within the postal community to ensure the fleet has all of the tools needed to conduct mail services for their crew while in a deployed environment.”