It’s not easy for the sailors or family and friends of our submariners and the lack of communication. There are various ways to communicate with submariners while they are on patrol and this article will address how your characters can interact with friends and family while underway and how significant others, family, friends can reach out to their sailors.
Each submariner is issued a special email address to send and receive email while underway. Emails can with approval of the Commanding Office when posing no tactical risk to the boat be transmitted to/from the submarine if there is contact with the appropriate satellites. This is not always guaranteed and will sometimes not happen at all during a patrol because of poor/no contact, tactical issues, etc.
There should be no expectation of privacy in fact all emails sent to/from the submarine are censored by the Executive Officer (for officers) and Chief of the Boat (for enlisted personnel). Emails are censored for obvious information outgoing that could be harmful to the boat or the mission. Incoming emails are actually censored for information that could cause an issue that should be better addressed in person. IE: If there was a death reported via email the COB or XO may elect to stop the email and address it one on one with the crew member to be sure they are properly supported or delay its arrival to their inbox.
Email size and content are also heavily restricted. Here is a list of restrictions:
- Emails cannot include images.
- Emails must be smaller than 15kb of data. In text that would be approximately fifteen paragraphs.
- Emails cannot be forwarded it must be a reply to the system or an original message sent to the system.
- Emails will be monitored, may be modified, or rejected completely.
- Emails must be in plain text format only.
Some thoughts on emails to/from submarines:
- Keep them short and simple.
- Feel free to send them daily but consider numbering the emails so if they come out of order or they’re rejected it’s known.
- The submarine may not send/receive emails until they return to US Naval Base.
- Computer access is heavily limited on submarines and junior enlisted personnel especially (E1-E6) will not have daily access to a terminal.
It is possible to send mail or packages to a submarine sailor and for them to send them home when the Submarine returns to a port or meets with another ship. It is worth nothing that this is very uncommon and often mail/packages would be received after the submarine returns to port. Of course on the rare occasion a submarine sailor does get to go ashore during a patrol they have access to outgoing mail when available.