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What is the best cell phone option for a deployed sailor?

My son will be completing basic training soon and then going to A school before becoming assigned to a ship.  I believe he can have a cell phone during A school and I send him his current cell phone following graduation. (for now his phone is on my plan.)  

My question is for the future.... as he will want a NEW CELL phone, and his own cell phone plan.  I want to help him get it set up in his best interest.  Since he will be deployed on a ship I'm not sure how that works.  Are cell phones allowed?  How does a sailor keep in touch with family and friends when deployed?


If they ARE allowed how do our sailors avoid high roaming charges, etc on their cell phones?  Is there an international plan that is recommended?  Should they get pre paid cell phones?  Or I phones, or droids with a global phone ready plan?  Do they have access to computers to pay bills online?  I'm not sure how that works either.  I would really appreciate some recommendations.  Is there a military rate phone wireless phone service plan?  We currently use Verizon.


I know on pleasure cruise ships using cell phones is extremely expensive.  We only could use phones in ports.   Does anyone who has a sailor in the family have advice on this?  I want to be able to communicate with him and for him to have a phone to use when in port- but I don't want him being surprised by high phone bills, etc.  How do we communicate with our sailors when they are on a ship?  Do they get email? Mail? Text messages on their phones?  With ships being deployed up to 6 months- I'm not sure how mail works either.


Thanks for any information you can share on this!

Views: 11114

Comment by Denise-- Seabee Mom on March 14, 2011 at 1:41pm

Look into international calling cards. Check with you current carrier and see what they offer. AT&T is good for military.

 They get mail through USPS. You will get a mailing address once he is put  on a ship.

Sometimes it can take awhile to reach them as well as care packages. They will have a email account that you can send emails too. But there isnt always internet so again that can take awhile to get a return reply. Ships can be deployed longer then just 6 months. The can call when they are in Ports. Maybe check groups of the different ships and countries and see what they are all doing. Also check under fourms read up on calling cards and phone cards.

Just be patient and wait to see what what he will be doing before you jump into buying other phone services. Just cause he is attached to a ship dont always mean he is going anywhere. Ships can ne in dry dock for while

Comment by Kathy (AOMom) on March 14, 2011 at 1:47pm

No cell phones on ships, but many plans whether he has his own or stays on your plan will suspend the service free of charge, for any deployed service member. I use Sprint, and military get 10% discount.

Sailors have access to email on the ship, depending on what his job is, some have easier access than others. You can send mail packages etc. to him while deployed.

They do have access to computers but not the internet, so he will need to either set up auto pays on his accounts or have someone handle his bills and bank account while he is deployed. From my experience so far, the ship my sailor is on has only had 2 ports of call in 2 months out, so not sure if its worth it to set up phone service for that, but I am sure others do.

Before he deploys he will be given instructions on what to do before he leaves for deployment, and how to handle all the various issues he may have.

Comment by Anti M on March 14, 2011 at 2:05pm

Some sailors who turned on their phones while away from the US, even to just listen to music, found they were slammed with a $2000+ phone bill. Do NOT use the cell phone at sea or in foreign ports.  Use an international calling card as suggested.  Some ships have satellite phones the sailors can pay to use now and then.

They can use their laptops on board to watch movies and play games. They can find wifi hotspots while in port. This is when skype is useful. Theft is rampant on some ship[s, so he should lock up his things.

If he is stationed overseas, such as a ship in Japan, his phone will not work.  Period. He will have to purchase a new one, and a new plan.

I STRONGLY recommend all new sailors do NOT rush into a new phone and plan until they know where they will be stationed.  Just use the old one, no matter how tempting that shiny new toy is.

Comment by Anti M on March 14, 2011 at 2:22pm
Another thing with the government email they must use, it is monitored and read for security purposes.  No attachments such as sparkly GIFs or photos coming in or out..  The ship will shut off email access during a crisis in order to control communications.  This is part of the reason why they are not allowed to have personal phones in use while not in port.  (I know of some who call when near shore, but they aren't supposed to be doing that).
Comment by AJVNavyMom on March 14, 2011 at 3:45pm
We gave our son an i-phone for his PIR graduation and kept him on our plan.  He pays for his internet ($30/mo) and the extra $10 to have him on my plan.  It's A LOT cheaper than him having his own plan.  We use Verizon.  Your son can have a phone in A school.  He will be able to text, email, and call when he can.  As far as the ship, unless you have a specific international plan, just have him use the ships email when he can to stay in touch as well as getting him calling cards.  The cell phone will be astronomical!  Good luck and thank your son for us! 
Comment by NancyW on March 21, 2011 at 5:43pm

I agree with AJVNavyMom.  My son is still on my plan.  He has calling, unlimited texting and an unlimited data plan for 50.00 a month. As he put it, he could not come close to getting this on a separate plan.  He doesn't have international calling on the phone. With t-mobile this has to be turned on.  I put his phone on military suspension for his deployments, this also keeps the unexpected international cost from happening. This has been working good for us for over 2 years now. While deployed he bought a pre-paid phone with minutes in port to call out with. It worked in 2 of the 3 ports he was at.



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