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Sailormail - Email support for the "Rest of the Navy"

If you would like more information on the sailormail system - including the history of this interesting utility, please contact the developer by clicking on the link below

The sailormail system was developed long before the advent of IP communications, and was specifically intended to support email to and from the submarines without the use of the IP protocol. In today's world, we take email for granted, but back then, the lack of an IP link also meant email was not possible.

The sailormail system started out as a very rudimentary replacement for the old "family gram" system, trying to make life a little easier for the families of the submariners.

In the old "family gram" system, sailors would be given six small pieces of paper, each having a total of 40 underlines on it.  Those lines represented one word per line.  The sailors would then distribute those six pieces of paper to his family (4 to his wife, 1 to his mother, 1 to an uncle .......).  The ONLY contact the family had with the sailor during an extended deployment was through those six pieces of paper.  The sailor had no ability to send a response back to the originator.

As the Navy began installing IP connectivity with networks ashore, the sailors were able to send email - but the problem is that the submarine force still had no IP connectivity, which translated into no possibility for traditional email for the submarine sailors.

It became apparent that the Navy needed a better way to provide connectivity with the sailors, so efforts were made to determine the feasibility of sending email through an alternate path.  The Sailormail system is an offshoot of that effort.  The system consisted of a couple of utilities - one used ashore, and one used afloat.  The shore component was basically a utility which collected what were effectively a modified version of the family gram, providing the operators on the RF link a simplified means of forwarding them to the sub.  The 'afloat component' provided the sailors with a streamlined method to deliver those messages to crew members.

The sailormail system still exists - but for a radically different purpose.  Today, the limited time a submarine is at communications depth, coupled with the limited bandwidth, makes it imperative that we carefully manage what information goes down that small "pipe" to the sub.  The sailormail system of today is a key component in helping streamline the email going to the sub.  A more detailed description of the sailormail process can be found at the link.

Email to the submarines - things you never knew


ETRN - This component is used to force the mail server ashore (niprnet and siprnet) to process the queue for all email destined to your particular domain.  The issue faced by submarines is that when mail is destined for a particular mail server, the server with the mail will attempt delivery, then initiate a sequence of retries if delivery is not successful.  In the case of the submarine, these deliveries will eventually time-out since the server ashore has no way of knowing when the submarine is capable of receiving email.   The ETRN component is used by the submarine force as a utility to "tell" the server ashore to start flushging anything in the queue for that domain.

Please email me - ( if you have any questions.

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