INDIAN OCEAN - Food service attendants (FSAs) perform daily tasks aboard amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) to ensure mission readiness, comfort and cleanliness.
Junior Sailors and Marines from various departments are temporarily assigned to the Food Service division and work with culinary specialists to directly serve and impact the health, morale and well-being of the ship's crew.
It takes a crew of approximately 100 FSAs to clean the mess decks, chiefs' mess and wardroom. They also work as scullery attendants, maintain staterooms, stock vending machines and assist with ship's laundry.
Seaman Ian Bier, who normally works in Deck department, said FSA duties are definitely a change in his daily routine because of the longer hours. During his past two months of FSA duty, he has learned how to be more patient with people.
Some of the crew might not be aware of the hard work FSAs do, especially those who have not had the chance to perform FSA duties.
"I have to clean up after people on the mess decks, so if I could say one thing to the crew I would want to tell them to be more mindful and to please pick up after themselves," said Bier.
FSAs are assigned to different workspaces around the ship, but still work together to get the job completed.
"My FSAs do a good job," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Pearl Amoako, food service leading petty officer. "If the FSAs didn't do their job, we wouldn't be able to provide a clean comfortable space to use during meal hours."
Even though FSAs work long hours, most of them find the time to complete shipboard qualifications.
"Many have gone well above what one would expect while executing an FSA tour," said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Joshua Smith, leading chief culinary specialist. "We've had many food service attendants qualify as Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialists and Enlisted Air Warfare Specialists while with Food Service and after 20 years, I can say that's a first."
Typically, a Navy FSA tour consists of 90 days for a Sailor's first tour, 60 for the second tour and 45 for the third. Normally, Marines perform FSA duties 30 days per tour.
"If the ship didn't have FSAs, the ship wouldn't run," said Smith. "Engineering might make the ship work, but the FSAs make the ship run."
Peleliu is the flagship for the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group on deployment in the western Pacific region with amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, provide a combat-ready force for maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.