E-Mail

E-Mail is now recognised as the primary method of communication to and from ships at sea and deployed units. So making sure that you have your loved ones official e-mail address before they deploy should be a priority.

There may be times when electronic communications are restricted. This could be for multiple reasons such as safety or to maintain operational security.  Remember to keep sending your messages though as they will eventually get through!

If you feel that you are not receiving your regular e-mails then make sure you check for the latest communications updates which are posted into the ship/unit forum in the Royal Navy forum. You will also find this information posted onto the Official Facebook Group of those participating ships and units.

Postal Services

Despite advances in technological communication the importance of receiving a letter or a parcel from a loved one remains an integral part in maintaining the morale of deployed personnel.

Unsure on what you can send, what is a "Bluey", will it get there in time, what's the address?

The British Forces Post Office (BFPO) will have the answers. They can be contacted via their website or by calling their enquiries team direct on 03457 69 79 78 

Need to calculate the cost of a parcel? The BFPO information Smartphone Application can help. Simply enter the size, weight and destination, it even gives final mailing deadlines for important annual dates like Christmas. 

Ever wondered where your letter or parcel is? The BFPO Track and Trace Smartphone Application can provide the answer. 

Telephone

Ships and Units have regular telephone numbers when in base ports which are available from the MoD Exchange:

Portsmouth - 02392 72 23 51

Faslane - 01436 67 43 21

Plymouth - 01752 55 37 40

Numbers for ships in alternative UK ports or abroad can also be obtained via these numbers.


Mobile Phones

"When I tell people I don't own a mobile phone and wouldn't know how to text, they react as though I have just confessed that I can't read." - Craig Brown

The mobile phone is very much the king of current communication to and from deployed ships and units.

The use of mobile phones at sea is governed by two factors; whether you can get a signal and whether its use is authorised by Command.

If communications are restricted due to safety or security reasons family and friends will, where possible, be notified via the Royal Navy forum.

If you do use a mobile, remember they are not secure so be careful what you discuss. 

Service personnel and families are strongly advised to check their phone provider's conditions of use and the associated cost of calls abroad prior to any deployment.


WelComE

Welfare Communications Everywhere (aka WelComE) provides UK Service Personnel deployed on "welfare entitled" deployments and exercises with publicly funded calls, voicemail and internet access.

For more information go to the WelComE website or call their Customer Contact Centre on 0800 433 49 93 (Mon-Fri 0600-2200 GMT)

V Boat Familygrams

FAMILYGRAMS ADVICE TO NOMINEES 

BACKROUND
 
Arrangements have been made for you to send FAMILYGRAMS to your loved one on board while they are deployed. The FAMILYGRAM is a one-way only means of communicating a short message from you to the submarine. It cannot be replied to. They should ideally be sent either twice a week and should consist of no more than sixty words each, or once a week consisting of no more than 120 words. The words permitted are inclusive of the person, rank or rate and name. If you mislay your forms, you may send your message on a normal piece of paper obeying the guidelines above to: 

BUSINESS REPLY SERVICE 
LICENCE NO PHQ3 
MAIL OFFICE 
HMS NEPTUNE (FOR HMS ………….) 
FASLANE 
HELENSBURGH 
DUNBARTONSHIRE 
G84 8HL 

FAMILYGRAM forms are not private and should be treated along the lines of a postcard. Once they are received in Faslane they will be read by an Officer to ensure no codes or bad news are enclosed (see below). On completion, they will be typed up by a Radio Operator for transmission to the submarine. Once on board they will be checked again by the Commanding Officer before distribution to the individuals. This means your message may be seen by up to half a dozen people prior to reaching its recipient on board, although confidentiality will always be maintained. The person to whom you are sending FAMILYGRAMS will have filled out a questionnaire stating how often they expect to be receiving messages, from whom, and whether any good or bad news is expected whilst they are away. You should discuss this questionnaire. You will receive a reminder if no FAMILYGRAMS are received for a certain length of time (normally 10 days). No FAMILYGRAM will be sent if it is suspected of containing a coded message or any bad news. 

GOOD AND BAD NEWS 

The aim of the FAMILYGRAM scheme is to provide a means where a very short message of reassurance can be sent to someone who has no method of returning home should something be wrong. Because of its length it is not the ideal method of explaining complicated scenarios of good and bad news. Thus, in urgent situations, it is possible to send other, longer signals to the submarine. Such messages might include news of births, deaths, serious injury or marital problems that might cause concern both for you and the person on board. Messages of such a private nature will be seen in the base only by nominated personnel and on board the submarine by the Captain, before reaching their recipient. 


Due to the existence of this procedure please note that any FAMILYGRAMS received which contain bad news will be held until further enquiries can be made. 
It must be made clear that this procedure should be used only in urgent situations and the sending of any bad news should be discussed with your next of kin/nominee before they go to sea. If there is a major problem and you need help, or you think an urgent message to the submarine is required, please contact Joint Casualty & Compassionate Centre (JCCC) 01452 519 951 (24hrs). 

NEWS AND SPORT 

News is regularly sent to the submarine by the Headquarters at Northwood and by ourselves. We do try to send news of a local flavour. If you notice an item in your local newspaper, be it serious or amusing, then enclose it with your FAMILYGRAM and we will do our best to include it on the next news signal. 

FAMILYGRAMS VIA EMAIL 

If you wish to pass your FAMILYGRAM via email, the procedure that should be followed is: 

Download either the 60 word or 120 word FAMILYGRAM from the V-Boat homepage on RN Forum. This is in the form of a Microsoft word document. You should fill in the document with the required information and send the word document attached to the email putting the name, rank, service number and HMS V……. .in the subject field. 

On receipt of the email and the attached document the duty communicator will acknowledge the email and the message will be typed up and put onto the next FAMILYGRAM signal that will be sent to the submarine. Please note this procedure must be followed. If you have any problems with this or have any questions, please email the relevant address below or contact the duty communications operator and we will try our best to resolve the problem. Please note that emails will not be replied to until the next working day. 

HMS VANGUARD HMSVANG-FAMILYGRAMS@mod.gov.uk 
HMS VENGEANCE HMSVENG-FAMILYGRAMS@mod.gov.uk 
HMS VICTORIOUS HMSVICT-FAMILYGRAMS@mod.gov.uk 

ADVICE TO NON PARTICIPANTS IN THE FAMILYGRAM SCHEME 

If your next of kin on board HMS V………. has opted not to take part in the FAMILYGRAM scheme, the purpose of this letter is to let you know how you may inform them of any important news (e.g. births /deaths within the family or financial/domestic crises). It is emphasised that it will be a one way only communication and will in no way hasten their return. 
Even though you have opted out of this scheme, it is highly recommended that you discuss with your Next of Kin whether they wish to be informed of any bad news whilst at sea or on their return. If there is a major problem and you need help, or think an urgent message needs to be passed, contact support organisation by the procedure described above. 

ADDITIONAL CONTACT NUMBERS 

SUPPORT CREW DUTY OFFICE 

The support crew have a duty organisation providing 24 hours a day cover may be contacted as above.