By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eric S. Brann, USS George Washington Public Affairs
CORAL SEA (NNS) -- Logistics specialists from Supply Department's S-1P division, assisted by departmental mail orderlies, received and distributed approximately 40,000 pounds of mail aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) following a goodwill port visit to Brisbane, Australia.
Due to operational commitments, approximately six to seven thousand boxes of mail were sent to Australia because mail could not travel directly to the ship via carrier on board delivery (COD) as usual.
"Due to unavoidable circumstances we had limited COD availability. So all mail was consolidated in [Australia] for us to pick up when we arrived," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Zenon Zurceno, from San Diego.
According to Zurceno, George Washington typically receives only 500 to 600 pieces of mail while at sea, which equates to approximately three to four thousand pounds. He added that processing all of the mail received while in Australia could have taken up to a week.
"Normally it takes us a day to process and disperse mail," said Zurceno. "With the amount of mail we received it will take us a few days. We have worked hard to move the mail, and with the help of orderlies, the mail was moved faster."
Department orderlies were called to help S-1P with the organization and distribution of the mail.
"We had several people going through each large bag of mail to label each box with where it belonged. And we had a team of people taking the marked boxes to the [departmental] piles," said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Amanda Baldwin, from Hanover, Pennsylvania. "I enjoyed helping out, because you get to really see how many departments there are and figure out where all the packages go. You really get a sense of what it takes to process mail for the ship."
According to Lt. Cmdr. Salvador Torres, George Washington's principal assistant for logistics, most of the mail and packages contain items that Sailors want and are not available on the ship. They may be care packages, letters of encouragement, or items that Sailors have ordered.
"I know everyone is excited to get their packages, letters or items from their family or loved ones, so we decided to move all of the mail as quickly as possible," said Master Chief Logistics Specialist Maria Aquino, George Washington's postal officer. "This was a ship-wide evolution, because we have mail orderlies from ship's company and the air wing. There was a lot of effort from Supply and the mail orderlies to complete this evolution."
George Washington's post office is managed by six Sailors: Aquino, Zurceno, Logistics Specialists 2nd Class Alfredo Estudillo, from San Luis, Arizona; Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Jordan G. Calhoun, from Enon, Ohio; Logistics Specialist Seaman Cody Climer, from Oklahoma City; and Logistics Specialist Seaman Nathan Hale, from Guthrie, Oklahoma.
"[S-1P division Sailors] love what they do and know what they are doing," said Torres. "Their main focus is to ensure Sailors get their mail as soon as possible."
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, are on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. George Washington will conduct a hull-swap with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) later this year after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan.