Mail Call, Mail Call
Just like last deployment, on this deployment we have been waiting for what feels like forever for our mail to catch up with us. The problem is, the mail hops around trying to catch up with us and it generally isn’t until we get to our deployment location for us to get mail regularly. So all those packages that our friends and family sent before we went on deployment back at the beginning of December have been sitting around somewhere waiting to catch up with us. That makes for one very, very big mail call.
Getting the mail is only one part of the larger evolution. Our replenishments at sea are a huge production involving many, many hands. It starts before dawn with the mustering of a 175-person working party on top of all the regular workers in the air, deck and supply departments, as well as the squadrons flying the helos.
One ship comes alongside us and we move things both by lines passed between the ships as well as by helicopters that go constantly picking up from one ship and delivering it to the other. The two great things we get from these replenishments is 1. mail, and 2. “fresh” (that’s sometimes questionable) fruits and vegetables. And of course there’s all the other things like parts and supplies, but who needs that? We need mail.
This past replenishment, we an incredible amount of mail to deliver, much more than usual since we’re finally operating in one place for an extended period of time. We ended up receiving somewhere in the ballpark of 150 pallets of mail. If you would like to know how much 150 pallets of mail is, I’d say one room in my house would fit anywhere from 9-16 pallets of mail. 150 pallets is A LOT OF FREAKIN MAIL. They moved it all down from the flight deck to the hangar bays and then it was sort, sort, sort. Sort, sort, sort. Sort, sort, sort, sort, sort, sort, sort.
The Chief’s Mess all pitched in to help because there was so much mail. We had a very efficient system set up; boxes would be opened, then bags would be opened, then secondary bags would be opened, then it would be dumped, it would be scanned twice, then written on, then passed down through about 10 people to the sorting location where it was given to the right department’s pile. There were probably about 150 people involved, what with there being about 40 departmental piles and 2 lines of people moving mail.
We had a lot of fun.
I got all the big, bulky, heavy packages.
Our fearless leader, the Command Master Chief of the ship, she got all the little packages.
Really, there were so many packages of every shape, size, and SMELL. There were ones losing rice, powdered koolaid, shampoo, mold, wet, rattling with broken packaging, busting at the seams, wrapped in Christmas paper, with stickers and love notes written on the outside, battered and bruised but they all made to their very appreciative Sailors. It was nice walking around the ship seeing all the Sailors with armsful of packages and huge smiles on their faces.