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Around The Fleet

NMPS Offers Entertainment at Sea

Movies from Millington to the fleet

Anyone who has been on deployment can attest to the fact that the ships on the water get some pretty good movies.

Imagine being on deployment. You turn on the TV and a movie fresh out of theaters starts playing. You are half way around the world doing the nation's work and you are watching this movie before everyone else stateside.

"I heard that there is an MC2 [Mass Communication Specialist] up in SITE TV who has a cousin's wife's dad's uncle who is a producer at some big studio who sends movies to us out here every month," one Sailor says to the other. Shipmate, you are wrong.

Sailors forward deployed and stationed at installations around the world are enjoying the newest and greatest movies because of a little six-person shop here in Millington, Tennessee.

Navy Motion Picture Service, part of Commander, Navy Installations Command's (CNIC) Fleet Readiness Program, is responsible for providing entertainment to the fleet, and they are good at it.

"We license an estimated 200 movies each year for public performance and distribution to 876 Navy, Marine Corps, MSC [Military Sealift Command], Coast Guard, and NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] commands or sites afloat and ashore worldwide," said Ron Rossman, Entertainment Services Branch head.

Three images from left-right: NMPS employee puts discs into cases; movies stored at NMPS; NMPS employee shows a movie.

The movies are provided in two formats, the encrypted Navy DVD (NDVD) and the film industry standard Digital Cinema Package (DCP). NDVD is used for the fleet and other afloat sites as well as shore-based recreation centers, while commercial-style base theaters use the DCP format with the added capability of 3D.

As if the whole system is not impressive enough, the number of NDVDs that come through the facility is staggering. Two men working in the distribution area send 16 NDVD movies each month to 830 program sites. Simple math will tell you that is 13,280 NDVDs sent out each month and 159,360 every year. Simple logic will tell you that is impressive.

The NDVDs come from the movie studio to the warehouse on base where they are individually packaged and prepared for transport.

Ken Allen, supply clerk at the Navy Entertainment Movie Program has been doing the job since the program came to Millington in 1996.

"For me, it is about the destination," he said.

"It is tedious sometimes but I know where they are going and I know how happy they will make our service members. I guess you could say it's a labor of love."
-Ken Allen

Although the Navy's Entertainment Movie Program has been around since the 1920s, it has only been based in Millington for 20 years. But it's always at the forefront of motion picture technology.

"The Navy was the first armed service branch to convert to a digital platform for all movies formats provided," said Rossman.

If you are wondering if the DVDs sent to the ship will play on your personal DVD player, the answer is a resounding "no."

The films are on an encrypted DVD that will only play on the encrypted DVD player counterpart. And the DVD will no longer play after the license on the movie runs out, four years after the Navy gets it.

In case this isn't enough information to process already, this warehouse in landlocked Millington does a little more.

Two images from left to right: Sailors watching a movie on the flight deck; movies being shown on monitors.

Sailors at sea can tell you that sitting on the flight deck at night watching a movie under the stars is a rewarding and impressive experience. This program also comes from Navy Entertainment. The Cinema at Sea Initiative (CASI) is one of the two equipment packages designed to enhance field operations. The shore counterpart to CASI is the Theater in a Box (TIB), which is designed for forward-deployed shore units and remote commands.

"Fleet viewing is estimated at over 120 million hours and shore attendance for NDVD and DCP is usually about 2.5 to 3 million," said Rossman.

Next time you find yourself on a ship in your space enjoying the latest iteration of "The Avengers" or "X-Men," remember the team of six dedicated individuals working diligently behind the scenes to give our service members operating forward a little piece of home.

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