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The list: 5 facts about USPS and the U.S. Navy

Navy personnel and postal officials with a bag of mail
Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield, fourth from left, postal officials and U.S. Navy personnel watch the loading of “missile mail” into the Navy submarine Barbero in 1959.

In honor of the U.S. Navy’s 243rd birthday Oct. 13, here are five things you may not know about the connection between the Postal Service and one of the military’s oldest branches.

1. The Navy once fired a missile full of mail from a submarine. While off the coast of Florida in 1959, the naval submarine Barbero launched a guided missile containing 3,000 pieces of mail bound for a naval air station 100 miles way. The “missile mail” experiment was the brainchild of then-Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield.

2. The Postal Service has issued more than a dozen Navy-themed or related stamps. Stamps have featured the USS Arizona Memorial, honoring the sailors killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor; the United States Naval Academy; and the Navy Cross military decoration.

3. Rock Hudson was a letter carrier and a sailor. The Oscar-nominated actor briefly worked as a substitute letter carrier in his hometown of Winnetka, IL, after serving in the Navy as an aircraft mechanic during World War II.

4. Aircraft carriers at sea don’t have to wait for port to get mail. Carrier onboard delivery is the use of aircraft to ferry personnel, mail, supplies and high-priority cargo from shore bases to an aircraft carrier at sea. This timelier method of delivery is credited with keeping morale high while sailors are deployed.

5. The first shipboard Navy Post Offices were established in 1908. The first three ships to open Post Offices were the USS Illinois, USS Rhode Island and USS Prairie. Post Offices were soon established throughout the fleet.

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