USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea -- Sailors and Marines working in the galley aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) provided their shipmates with a memorable Thanksgiving Day feast at sea, Nov. 24.
Serving a traditional holiday dinner for more than 2,000 service members meant preparing 80 turkeys, 600 pounds of ham, 2,000 pounds of beef and 5,000 dinner rolls.
Navy and Marine Corps cooks and food service attendants began preparing for the meal at 2 a.m. Thanksgiving Day.
While it took more than 12 hours to cook the food, the whole process began months before the current deployment began. Makin Island's Supply Department ordered the ingredients needed to prepare the meal two months before the ship deployed.
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Michael Ferrara said serving Sailors and Marines who are away from home for the holidays, instead of enjoying a good meal with their family, friends or loved ones, was definitely worth the extra time and effort.
"It's hard enough for the crew and the Marines to be here working long hours and doing this grueling work away from their families," said Ferrara. "We want to make sure everyone is happy and feels at home."
Ferrara said he thinks the average crew member envisions Thanksgiving as a beautiful time with their family, and that eating the Thanksgiving Day meal on the ship shouldn't tarnish that holiday feeling.
"We try to go above and beyond," said Ferrara. "If you're thinking, 'I'm on a ship, I'm going to have to eat Navy food,' we want to change your whole perspective."
Ferrara said he was happy the crew appreciated the Thanksgiving meal and said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve it.
"I am thankful for my family being healthy, having a home, and I am thankful for the money I am going to save on deployment," said Ferrara. "And I am thankful for having a bunch of friends on this deployment."
The home-cooked meal and camaraderie made Marine Pfc. Matt Goss almost feel like he was at home eating a Thanksgiving dinner with his family and watching football on the couch with a bunch of friends.
Goss said he even did something many people do at Thanksgiving.
"When I went back for a second helping, I felt like I was at home except my family on the ship is much bigger and the lines are longer," said Goss. "I mean, I have a big family, but not this big."
Goss said he felt taken care of by the men and women he relies on to lead him on his first deployment, just like he does with family back at home.
"It's good that the staff NCOs and officers took time out to serve us," said Goss. "After all, I can't be with my family at home, but I have my second family here."
Makin Island, the Navy's newest Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps which will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary Ray Mabus' energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence, and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is named in honor of the World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, 2nd Raider Battalion on Japanese occupied Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island." The ship, along with more than 2,000 Sailors and Marines, departed San Diego Nov. 14 on its maiden deployment in support of the Navy's Maritime Strategy.