USS Curtis Wilbur
"Steel Hammer of the Fleet"
USS Curtis Wilbur (ddg54)
Official U.S. Navy file photo.
Teamwork Earns Curtis Wilbur 2013 Ney Award
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devon Dow
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) was awarded the 2013 Navy Capt. Edward F. Ney Memorial Award for outstanding food service for the medium afloat category.

This marks the second time Curtis Wilbur has won the Ney award, winning previously in 2002. Each individual aspect of the profession was evaluated by an independent team, including the ship’s food preparation, management, administrative efficiency, and sanitation.

“Out of the 120 ships in our category, it is an incredible honor for Curtis Wilbur to be recognized with this award,” said Cmdr. Joseph D. Femino, commanding officer of Curtis Wilbur. “Many may believe the award is given solely based on the great food served on the mess decks, but it encompasses a wide range of moving parts. From record keeping to supply management, our food service assistants (FSA) and culinary specialists, and our engineering department’s maintenance on our supply equipment. It is great to see these elements operate together daily, and to have the combined work evaluated as the best is well deserved.”

The evaluation team, made up of senior Navy culinary specialists and International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA) representatives, visited Curtis Wilbur in Dec. 2012 for the inspection of the ship’s food service facilities. The results of that inspection elevated the ship through the competition to be eligible for the overall award.

Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Levi Nichols, Curtis Wilbur’s food service division leading petty officer, attributed the achievement to the attitude, leadership and teamwork of everyone involved, from the ship’s senior leadership down to the deck plates.

“The entire crew put in a lot of long hours and we are pleased with the results,” Nichols said. “This award is not just for the food service department but for the entire crew. Everyone played a part in making this possible.”

The award is named for Navy Capt. Edward Francis Ney, an enlisted Sailor during World War I who later earned his commission as a supply officer. His work resolving difficulties within the military’s food service industry during World War II contributed to a higher standard of rationing in the Navy.

Sailors agree that while winning the award is a great honor, being Ney winners has to be the standard and not just the goal.

“Ship-wide, I believe that the award is motivating,” said Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechnical) Fireman Casey Doherty, currently working as a FSA in the ship’s wardroom. “I have been on the ship for only six months and I can already see that the crew is committed to hard work. To be selected for the award is a good feeling.”

The Ney Memorial Awards Program is co-sponsored by the Secretary of the Navy and the Internal Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA) to recognize quality food and customer service in both shore and afloat commands. The goal of the award is to improve the quality of life for Navy personnel.

“Winning the award is like winning the top prize for what we do,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman José Dejesus Rubio. “It is excellent for the entire crew.”

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