By David Schattschneider, Postal Officer and Jamie C. Fernandez Jr., Leading Chief Petty Officer, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center, Sigonella-Site Naples, Detachment Rome
As one of NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Sigonella’s three mail control activities (MCA) in Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central, MCA Rome operates out of Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy and comprises one Navy civil servant and eight Sailors.
Our small, but highly capable team is responsible for the secure and expeditious movement of mail through Fiumicino Airport to Navy and Joint warfighters stationed in the region, as well as transiting naval forces.
We accomplish our postal mission by accounting for, inspecting, surveying, receiving, coordinating, and dispatching military mail bound for southern Italy that enters and departs from the warehouses located at the airport. Although we are experts in what we do, keeping the mail moving requires cooperation with several other entities, including the NAVSUP Enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service, the Joint Military Postal Activity, and our industry partners at the commercial airlines and airports. Our motto “One Team One Fight!” appropriately reflects the spirit of collaboration required and has been reaffirmed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the first several weeks of the pandemic, mail that previously flew into Rome was diverted to Frankfurt, Germany and then trucked to Rome due to commercial airlines’ suspension of flights to/from Europe and reduction of intra-European travel by 90% on flights regularly utilized for mail transportation. Since commercial aircraft are primary carriers of military mail, the lack of regularly occurring flights greatly impacted our logistics operations; however, the mail waits for no one. In fact, during the extended shelter-in-place, postal operations became more robust as mail volumes increased with customers using online retailers to procure essentials normally purchased at local brick and mortar stores.
In all, every member of our MCA Rome team stepped up to the plate and performed at a high level during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the successful coordination with Italian cargo handler companies has built an even stronger relationship between NAVSUP FLC Sigonella and our host nation partners, ensuring that mail is always moving to the customer.