By Candice Villarreal, Director, Office of Corporate Communications, NAVSUP FLC San Diego
NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego joined Sailors on board USS Spruance (DDG 111) to conduct afloat postal training in San Diego.
The command’s Navy Postal Management Inspection Team, a five-person cadre of some of the Navy’s most knowledgeable postal pros, routinely conducts cyclical training for every command in the Navy’s southwest region; a total of about 220 shore commands and 55 ships.
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A Sailor picks up mail from the postal office aboard USS Spruance (DDG 111). NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego is on board Spruance to conduct postal operations training in preparation for the ship’s upcoming Supply Management Certification inspection.
Aboard Spruance, the team partnered with Afloat Training Group (ATG) to prepare the ship’s crew for their upcoming Supply Management Certification (SMC) inspections, with ATG taking the reins on supply operations and NAVSUP FLC San Diego taking charge of the entire gamut of postal operations.
“It’s very much about preparation and sharpening processes, but it’s also about teambuilding,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW) Evelyn Chavez. “They’re very receptive; we make sure they are engaged and fully understand the importance and implications of official inspections. We dedicate ourselves to ensuring they are 150 percent ready for their deployments and in a position to successfully earn their certifications. We do not let them fail.”
In fact, San Diego based ships have seen a 100 percent success rate for SMC 1.4, colloquially referred to as the “Super Bowl” of supply inspections. Similarly, there hasn’t been a single noted postal offense in more than two years.
“We train, qualify, and inspect,” said Angel Tejada, postal advisor for NAVSUP FLC San Diego. “We provide finance and distance support, conduct pre-deployment briefs, supply them with all necessary supplies in their pack-up kits, conduct official mail assessments and mail manager training, and more. All while processing all incoming and outgoing mail for the fleet.”
Ships in port must also submit their postal records to the team monthly for inspection and audit, allowing the NAVSUP FLC San Diego team to identify areas requiring improvement before ever setting foot on board.
“It’s been a great opportunity to get an outside perspective to ensure we are serving the crew to the best of our ability,” said Lt. j.g. Lukas Fenley, Assistant Supply Officer aboard Spruance. “The training and inspections give us bearing on where we can improve, allowing us to take any lessons learned and execute. The corrections we make today will uphold the integrity of our postal programs and have lasting, ongoing effects for the next operational phase of this ship.”
Supply operations – and postal operations specifically – have long been associated with crew morale levels.
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Logistics Specialist 1st Class Evelyn Chavez trains USS Spruance (DDG 111) crewmembers on shipboard postal operations in advance of the destroyer’s Supply Management Certification Inspection in San Diego.
“Mail is one of those functions that isn’t missed until it’s missed,” said Tejada. “When you’re waiting for something and it doesn’t arrive–whether that’s a package from your loved ones back home or official mail and repair parts necessary for these ships to operate properly–that’s when you see the true value and importance of postal operations.”
According to Postal Director and Regional Postal Manager Robert Shaw, the team’s focus on maintaining open lines of communication and fostering solid working relationships with fleet customers enables them to better assist in helping to keep shipboard programs running smoothly.
“Mail has to be done right, and if they’re not doing it right, they’re going to pull into a port and they won’t have any mail waiting for them,” said Shaw. “From using correct postage rates to identifying suspicious mail and keeping clean and organized records, it’s all equally important. We really get into the weeds when we’re training them in port, because we know that once they’re out executing the Navy’s missions on the seas, they will still need to be able to continue these operations. They have to be able to meet their postal demands despite some of the incredible challenges they will be facing as a warship at sea.”