Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Under the OOD's Nose - a 'PC' logistics tale

This bit of arcane naval history might only have applied to suface fleet Postal Clerks, a rating not seen on submarines but on larger surface vessels before April 1, 2010, when with the SK rating it was merged to become "Logistics Specialist' (LS). A more modern update (2008-2009) has been added at the end.

Naval Postal Clerks were suspected of two enviable advantages: Who else would know when a sailor's mail contained ""baked goods or other special treats?; secondly who was always the first to handle the latest editions of Playboy?

On rarer occasions, some PCs might also have profited from the sale of smuggled cigarette cartoons into Sixth Fleet ports. The following excerpts refer to the 1950s and early 1960's era and obviously tell the 'insider's story'.

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At the time, American cigarettes were in great demand in Italy and Greece, with a single pack fetching $1.00 on the local black market. Cartons of cigarettes (with 10 packs) were available from the ship's store for $1.50.

However, the Navy limited each sailor to two cartons per week at the store and officers or high-ranking petty officers searched each sailor going ashore, especially in Italian and Greek ports. Each sailor was allowed one, opened pack of cigarettes when going ashore and this was strictly enforced.

Mailbags going ashore were padlocked and not searched. Officers on either end of the route held keys. Some Postal Clerks that locksmiths could pick the lock and make a 'spare' key. When loading outgoing mail PCs could include cartons galore (often purchased by non-smoking shipmates). The OOD would verify mailbags were padlocked.

Once in port, the PC would visit a blackmarket, open the mailbag(s) and sell the cartons. Afterward, the PC would relock the mailbag(s), and deliver mail as appointed. - U.S.C.S. Log, Feb 2011, The Best Job in the Fleet, Postal Clerk [as told by a friend] by J.G. Eyerman

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WARNING: The following article contains 6 mugshots

UPDATE (): UK Mail Online || Three RAF servicemen jailed for smuggling SEVEN MILLION cigarettes on military flights from the Middle East

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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