USS NEW ORLEANS, At sea - Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) celebrated Thanksgiving Day at sea, Nov. 24.
Chefs and support staff in New Orleans' galley, also known as "The Big Easy Cafe," prepared a full Thanksgiving feast for crew members including the traditional holiday staples such as turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob.
The food preparation started around 3 a.m., and lasted all the way up until dinner was served.
"A lot of work goes into this, and we've been prepping pretty hard," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Anthony Green. "We do our best to try and offer all the comforts of home."
To give the mess decks a more holiday feel, members of the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation committee hung up decorations throughout the mess decks.
"We're just trying to keep things out here as normal as possible for the crew," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Teshowme Marshall. "Even though we're out here, we want people to know this day is different than the rest."
As Sailors started to line up for the evening's special meal, Lt. Paul Armstrong, the ship's chaplain, offered a special prayer over the ship's loudspeaker.
"What I'm so thankful for is our family and friends who are sitting around their tables and actually pausing and praying for us and it's a testament to their faithfulness for supporting us," he said. "We need these opportunities to pause and refocus, even though it's only for a meal."
While the crew wasn't able to celebrate the holiday with family and friends, they were able to spend it with their shipmates.
For some Sailors and Marines, this was their first Thanksgiving away from home.
"It's the first time I won't be readily available to call my family or anything like that. This is the first time I've ever really been away from home," said Engineman Fireman Marissa Schultz. "It's nice they're doing this with all the decorations, it's different, but at the same time it's definitely a morale booster."
New Orleans deployed Nov. 14 in support of the Navy's Maritime Strategy, along with the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and the dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), which make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
Commissioned in 2007, New Orleans is the second of the San Antonio-class transport dock ships. Its warfighting capabilities include a state-of-the-art command and control suite, substantially increased vehicle lift capacity, a large flight deck, and advanced ship survivability features that enhance its ability to operate in the littoral environment.
The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.