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To USS Carl Vinson sailors: 'You've got mail' E-mail, that is

Sailors check their e-mail  
CNN's Tom Mintier reports from the USS Carl Vinson
Windows Media 28K 56K
January 7, 1999
Web posted at: 1:39 p.m. EST (1839 GMT)

ABOARD USS CARL VINSON (CNN) -- Life aboard a U.S. Navy ship in the Persian Gulf is anything but boring. Even so, homesickness is common, and e-mail helps make the separation easier to bear.

Computers connected to the Internet allow the 5,000 men and women on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to send and receive messages from home. The messages are relayed through a satellite link to Bremerton, Washington, the ship's home port.

"The introduction of e-mail for the sailors on the ship is probably the greatest quality-of-life improvement in the last 25 years in the Navy," says Rear Adm. Alfred Harms, who commands the eight-ship Vinson carrier group.

Packages are still flown to the ship from shore. But with e- mail so popular, there are fewer sacks of letters than there used to be.

"I wake up in the morning mainly looking forward to my e-mail instead of waiting for boxes or mail which takes weeks," says Vinson crew member Christopher McManemy. "I can get up every day and I have an e-mail."

The flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson  

Sailor Budd Faulkner says he's grateful he can "talk to my wife every day."

Commanders say morale aboard ship has improved dramatically since e-mail and improved phone service was installed.

The Vinson crew got spoiled, says F-18 pilot Tony Yoder, so if the e-mail system "goes down, people start complaining. They've done really good on this ship because they know this is a morale issue, and make sure that (the system is) up and ready to go."

Security is always a concern for the U.S. military, and e-mail is no different. All messages sent from the ship are screened. But so are snail-mail letters, which can take weeks to reach their destinations.

Now, far-away loved ones can communicate almost instantly.

Correspondent Tom Mintier contributed to this report.

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