USS KITTY HAWK, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) said "Freedom E-mail" is a welcomed service and have embraced the privilege with open arms.
The Sailors had been without e-mail in light of operational security and force protection concerns surrounding the ship's current mission. Now, in fact, on an average day, 1,053 Freedom E-mails leave the ship.
Since Nov. 1, when Freedom E-mails were authorized for the crew, more than 6,000 such messages have been transmitted, according to the automated data processing (ADP) division, which is the last stopping point for the messages before transmission. Freedom E-mails pass through a two-tiered screening process by the ship's various divisions and departments.
Kitty Hawk Sailors cheered the command's decision to relax the communications restriction by allowing Freedom E-mail.
"It's a real morale builder," said Airman Benjamin Cooper, who works in the dental lab. "Having e-mail back keeps people more relaxed. People were stressing because they were getting all this e-mail, but they couldn't respond. It's pretty cool now."
Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Charles Stamps said Freedom E-mail "was a real blessing," as he is in the process of a transfer and needs to communicate on such matters with his wife.
"Three e-mails a week is certainly better than none. It's made things a little easier, being able to communicate with her," Stamps said.
Processing Freedom E-mail keeps ADP busy, but according to one of the Sailors in charge of transmitting the messages off the ship, it's a service they enjoy providing their shipmates.
"It has taken up quite a bit of our time," said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Jeff Shanahan. "But it has all been worth it. The people we talk to say they appreciate being able to contact families and girlfriends. It saves a few headaches."
Shanahan and others in ADP not only serve as a clearinghouse for all Freedom E-mail, but also conduct quality checks on messages, making sure addresses are formatted properly and attachments, if authorized, are in order.
Restrictions placed on the outgoing messages -- most notably, operational security concerns -- are simple to follow.
"It's plain and easy," Cooper said. "OPSEC, it's what it's all about."
Ensign Stephen Tipton, ADP division officer, credited his staff with handling the added workload and for coming up with the Freedom E-mail concept.
"We wanted to open up a pipeline for unclassified e-mail. The bottom line of the program was to help morale and it's working," Tipton said.
Dental Technician 3rd Class Kimberly Hutcheson said Freedom E-mail is a welcomed outlet for her correspondence needs.
"I write letters all the time, but it's nice to have e-mail back," said Hutcheson, of the dental lab. "I got used to not having e-mail around, but now that we do, it is nice having it because you get a quick response back."
Supply Department Yeoman Seaman Apprentice James Wilson, called Freedom E-mail "a real joy."
"It's boosted everybody's morale," Wilson said.
For more information on USS Kitty Hawk, go to http://www.kittyhawk.navy.mil.