Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego joined Sailors from the Navy’s newest destroyer class this April to conduct afloat postal training aboard USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) in San Diego.
The command’s Navy Postal Management Inspection Team routinely conducts cyclical training for every command in the Navy’s southwest region; a total of about 220 shore commands and 55 ships. For Zumwalt, however, the training would cover new ground: USS Zumwalt was the first ship designed to have a single supply-rated Sailor running its postal and retail operations simultaneously.
“The Zumwalt is a very different beast than the rest of our ships,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW) Evelyn Chavez. “With only around 130 Sailors and just 20 of them in supply, sure, you’re going to have Sailors doing jobs they’ve never done before. But they’re also the only ship in the Navy right now where they have a space built to equip both an afloat post office and a ship’s store. These are two completely different types of operations taking place in one small, confined space.”
Of course, cross-training Sailors in new types of procedures – on a new class of ship – can have its challenges. As a result, Zumwalt’s training had to be specifically tailored to emphasize not only the cross-rated duties, but also to focus heavily on mail security.
“The ship’s layout itself is challenging,” said Chavez. “You’ve got Sailors entering the ship’s store and the postal space at the same time, and we treat all mail as confidential, at a minimum. We really wanted to zero-in and ensure their crew was ready for any obstacles that could potentially come their way. We don’t want to see any postal offenses.”
Aboard the guided-missile destroyer, Ship’s Serviceman 1st Class (SW/AW) Edward Carr, a 19-year Sailor from Los Angeles, was chosen to be the first Sailor to operate the ship’s store while also serving as custodian of postal effects.
“Due to the challenges in maintaining an operational tempo while undergoing these types of modernizations, it’s important that I get comfortable with all of the inspections and forms, that I receive thorough training, and that I know the right way of doing things,” said Carr. “Without NAVSUP FLC San Diego, I don’t know how we would have done it; they made streamlining these processes painless and showed us how to be as flexible as the Navy wants us to be.”
Supply operations – and postal operations specifically – have long been associated with crew morale levels.
“Whether I’m selling you a bag of chips or delivering your mail from back home in the middle of the ocean, my job is to improve morale,” said Carr. “You need morale to fight and win.”
NAVSUP FLC San Diego trains, qualifies, and inspects shipboard supply operations while providing finance and distance support, conducting pre-deployment briefs, prepping pack-up kits, conducting official assessments and more.
“Zumwalt is a minimally-manned vessel; it’s imperative for us to have well-trained and skilled Sailors underway, and that’s where this training really adds value,” said Lt. John Waggener, Zumwalt supply officer. “The NAVSUP team comes on board and really helps us strengthen our operations. They helped train up a ship’s serviceman with no background experience and got him ready to go quickly. Now it’s just a matter of taking all those new skills and making it happen while forward deployed.”
NAVSUP FLC San Diego’s solid working relationships with fleet customers enables the logistics powerhouse to better assist in helping to keep shipboard programs running smoothly as the Navy’s warships deploy in support of global security.
“As we continue to build a bigger fleet and endeavor to be the Navy the nation needs, we will continue to see new, more innovative and flexible shipboard platforms come to life,” said Commanding Officer Capt. Michelle Morse. “Our role in that is to keep ourselves aligned with our customers’ needs to enable their mission accomplishment. In this case, that means providing them with the training they need to be successful, no matter where their operations might take them. I think I speak for this very talented workforce when I say that we are proud to be able to provide these types of crucial support to our warfighters.”
NAVSUP FLC San Diego is one of eight FLCs under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP’s mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter.
Candice Villarreal, Naval Supply Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications