Sailors and civilians based at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, don’t have to leave their offices anymore to get their mail.

Until recently, all mail was delivered to about 2,400 postal boxes at one of the two base post offices. Now it will be delivered directly to a person’s command and nearly all boxes will be shut down.

Boxes at NAS II will close Saturday and at NAS I on March 31.

The only exception will be for about 100 retired military members who will still receive their mail in the boxes.

Master Chief Petty Officer Catherine Mace, Sigonella’s postal officer, said that the change should benefit base residents.

“A lot of people don’t like change,” she said. “[But] they’ll find it easier to get their mail … at the command instead of having to go to the post office. It’s much more convenient.”

Mace said base residents need to fill out a change of address card showing their command address to ensure that the mail gets to them as quickly as possible.

Most packages, however, will remain at the flight line fleet mail center. Residents will be able to pick them up seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., she said.

In addition to providing service for base residents and retirees, Mace said, the Sigonella postal staff handles mail for deployed aircraft squadrons and ships in the area.

Sigonella postal clerks handle an average of 4½ million pounds of mail each year at their two base post offices and the flight line fleet mail center.

Last year, Mace said, they handled 7 million pounds because of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The box closures reflect both a manpower shortage and a need to get Sigonella back on line with other overseas Navy bases.

The fleet mail center has 25 Navy, two Marine Corps and two civilian postal clerks. But Mace said that the center should have 30 Navy postal clerks and will soon be losing its two civilian positions. Even if the postal facility had the full complement of staff, it isn’t set up to handle the post office boxes.

“Normally, the only overseas bases with receptacles are … those with home-based ships,” she said. Mail for the other Navy bases in Europe is delivered directly to the workplace.

Naval Support Activities Gaeta and La Maddalena, both with home-ported ships, have post office boxes for residents, according to Navy Region Europe postal officials.

Most bases, however, still have on-base post office boxes for retirees. For example, Rota, Spain, has about 300 retirees with boxes, Mace said. Naples, according to base officials, has about 100.

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