From Empty To Fed: Boxer Galley Preps For Return To Service
By MC2 Christopher Menzie
What was cold and grey two weeks ago aboard amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD-4) now teams with colors and familiar smells. Vaults that once lay dormant are now filled with stacks of soda and condiments. The freezer that eight days before was non-operational is now home to meats and cheeses. Empty pans along the chow line are filled with baked chicken, fries, green beans, and whatever else is on the day’s menu. The mess deck that had been a silent place for people to meet after the last deployment is now one of the ship’s loudest areas. As of May 14, the galleys are in business.
According to Chief Warrant Officer Adaryll Ferguson, the head of food service, getting food from the pier to the tray takes the efforts of a small army of culinary specialists and food service attendants working together. Here is how it works: Generally, to get food to a ship, you must order it, receive it and store it. The menu is then decided by a watch captain. Items are brought up from storage, prepared and placed out for consumption. According to CSCS (SW/AW) James Dykes, this is how it works when the galleys are operating normally.
To get things to this ‘normal’ level, FSAs and CSs have spent the last few weeks cleaning, repairing and training in preparation for inspection. Before everything could go online, Medical had to check to make sure all food prep and storage spaces were sanitary. To make matters more complex, the CSs had to work around contractors and Sailors who are also working in the spaces to do such things as resealing the mess deck floors and welding machines into place.
While that was taking place, engineers were busy getting the temperature in the freezer to the proper level for food storage. When sanitation levels were up to standard, freezers were working, and storage space was ready, food service was ready for supply on load.
During the first week of May, the galley took on roughly five tons of supplies through a week-long evolution of upload and dispersal. Forklifts brought the food up to the hangar bay where a chain of Sailors passed boxes of meat, vegetables and beverages to their proper places in store rooms and the freezer. With the onload complete, it was time to feed once more.
Going forward, the food service leadership has high expectations for their crew and the experience they can bring to the Boxer.
“We want to be the best crew on the waterfront,” said Dykes. “When you go to a buddy’s ship and try their food, you can still brag that yours is better.”
Fergeson also wants his mess decks to play host for “healthy choices, healthy meals, and a place where Sailors can congregate and focus on other things besides work.”
When Sailors have had a hard day, sometimes those are the things that matter the most.