The Navy Exchange Service Command Ships Store Program, a Naval Supply Systems Command organization, is responsible for oversight of the Navy's Ships Stores.
The program is expeditionary, sea-based and provides essential quality of life services to Sailors and Marines serving on fleet ships around the world. Since Congress authorized the Ships Store operation in 1909, the program has taken care of Sailors and Marines whenever they are called to sea. The tempo of fleet operations remains high, and the Ships Store goes where our customers go. More than 50 percent of Navy ships are at sea and approximately 30 percent are forward deployed. The Ships Store program provides retail stores, vending machines, barbershops and laundry facilities to make seagoing life better.
Ships Stores are operated using appropriated funds and generate dividends to support shipboard morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) programs that are vital to enhancing the well-being and readiness of Sailors at sea. The afloat telecommunications program, which provides that vital
underway phone link home for deployed Sailors and Marines, continues to be one of the biggest
shipboard morale boosters.
A recent question sent to the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (DON CIO) Privacy Office via its website addressed a concern from a chief petty officer about the requirement for writing his full Social Security number on the back of a personal check for payment in a ships
store. His question led to a major policy change within the Ships Store Program. Since the CPO did
not have a Navy Cash debit card established, he wrote a personal check. To respond to the chief,
the DON CIO Privacy Office contacted the Vice President of Afloat Operations/Ships Store Program and received immediate and positive results.
The old Ships Store Program policy required that service members writing a check for ships
store merchandise include their SSN on the back of the check. Additionally, the old policy required
personnel who receive health and comfort items while in a non-pay status to write their SSN on their Request and Receipt for Health and Comfort Supplies, DD Form 504.
The new policy, effective Nov. 1, 2010, eliminates the requirement to place the SSN on the DD
Form 504 and the requirement to have SSNs on personal checks. By the end of 2010, guidance will
be published which will eliminate all policy requirements by the Ships Store Program to require a SSN for identification.