Fort Gordon’s U.S. Navy contingent buys 700 Apple iPods

“This month the Navy contingent at Fort Gordon bought 200 iPods. Earlier in the year it bought another batch of 500. These were not the dinky, low-capacity shuffle-only kind, but the new 30-gigabyte models with fancy video screens, so you can watch reruns of “CSI” and “Fear Factor” (available for download at $1.99 an episode). These iPods start at $299 apiece, so the Navy must’ve paid at least $210,000 for the lot,” Corey Pein reports for

Pein asks, “Why does the military need these hip digital fashion accessories? To boost morale? To indoctrinate the troops? To study how long-term use of “ear bud” headphones affects human brainwaves?”

“A message left for NIOC’s commanding officer, Capt. Sean Filipowski, was directed to the flacks at the Naval Network Warfare Command in Norfolk, Va. Turns out there was actually a pretty good reason (make that official reason) for the iPod requisition. John Donaldson, deputy public affairs officer, says the iPods are being used for foreign language training,” Pein reports.

“Aha! Just as we suspected! ‘We’ve gone from reel-to-reel players to cassette tape players to these,’ Donaldson said. The advantages of the new technology are obvious. One of the portable digital players can hold an entire study course of Arabic, Farsi or Mandarin, with plenty of room left over for James Brown’s ’20 All-Time Greatest Hits!’ ($5.99 from iTunes),” Pein reports.

Full article here.
Just a note that bulk pricing probably came into play; we doubt the Navy paid retail prices on orders of 500 and 200 units.

Related article:
Duke University’s iPod program revolutionizing students’ experiences with language studies – December 04, 2004


  1. Fort Gordon is a US Army installation located just outside Augusta, Georgia. It is the HQ for the Army’s Signal Corps, which handles communications and IT equipment for the Army. The vast majority of their training schools for those jobs, Officer and Enlisted, are located there.

    During the 1980’s the DoD heavily pushed the consolidation of schools, equipment and training between the different services. This caused the relocation of a number of Marine, Naval & Air Force schools and units to Fort Gordon. That is why sailors can readily be found on an Army installation so far inland.

    Among the jobs in the signals field is EW (electronic warfare) which does include the interception of enemy communications. Since most of our likely opponents would be speaking in a language other than english, language training makes a great deal of sense.

    From an ex-soldier that was stationed at Fort Gordon back in the day.

  2. “MacDailyNews Take: Just a note that bulk pricing probably came into play; we doubt the Navy paid retail prices on orders of 500 and 200 units.”

    You’re right. They probably paid US Gov prices – about $4000.00 each.

  3. Sailors don’t have the luxury of having computers on board ship.

    1: Not enough power plugs, except in the bunks and at the sinks.

    2: Certainly no internet connection, security risk.

    3: They keep the sailors sleep deprived by working 6 hours on 6 hours off.

    There might be some limited time here and there to listen to iPods, but that’s about it.

    Navy life is brutal. Thieves are plentiful and there is no desk-space on a ship.

  4. To: Old Navy Man

    1. There are power plugs in the bunks and desk (if you are an officer).

    2. Satellite direct connect. However, not located at berthing. Work space only. iPods or removable media not pre-approved are NOT allowed.

    3. Try port and starboard: 12 on, 12 off. Only on certain critical watches where there are not enough qualified personnel to stand a regular 4 hour watch.

    Navy life is brutal: depends on how you look at it. Working 100-hr weeks is SOP. You can get more done out to sea than you can at shore.

  5. I support buying them iPods as a bonus for taking language training. I was recently on a large amphib. We visited Marseille, France, and our entire French language capability, out of 1500 sailor and 1000 Marines, was one crew member who had a couple of years of French in high school!

  6. Thieves are plentiful on board – depending on what you have to steal. If you leave a $100 bill, a Snickers, and a f**k book on the table in berthing, only the magazine and the candy bar will disappear.

    You’ll find the mag in the head two days later with “comments” in the margins, and the Snickers wrapper in your best friend’s pit. No place to spend the $100 at sea.

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