New faces aboard USS Blue Ridge contribute to Talisman Saber 2013 Exercise
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samuel Weldin  Class Samuel Weldin
CORAL SEA - Service members aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) are learning to work with and accommodate approximately 300 ship riders while undergoing Talisman Saber 2013, an exercise coordinated between the U.S. military and Australian forces.

The additional ship riders have the USS Blue Ridge supporting close to its maximum personnel capacity, bringing about a period of adjustment for the ship’s crew.

Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Dennis Evans explains that the galleys prepare around 100 pounds of food under normal operation, but for TS13 the preparations have been increased almost double, to nearly 200 pounds.

“We have added extra items to the line and out at the seating area in order to speed up the serving process,” said Evans. “It is all about being prepared in this kind of situation. The faster the food goes out, the more productive we can be with other responsibilities.”

The ship riders will be aboard for the next week. The extra manning has required some of the ship’s crew to readjust their daily routines to accommodate the ship riders.

“The ship riders have been great! It’s a little bit busier in the passage ways than normal, but all the new faces are refreshing and exciting to see around the ship,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Stephanie Lemaster.

Master Chief Fire Controlman Craig Hohnstein, 7th Fleet senior enlisted leader, said adjustments to the crew member’s standard of living were anticipated and the crew has been adapting proficiently.

“There have been challenges logistically, but we are working through them and everything seems to be running smoothly and according to plan,” said Hohnstein.

TS13, which includes more than 27,000 U.S. and Australian personnel, is a biennial training activity aimed at improving Australian Defense Force and U.S. combat readiness and interoperability as a Combined Joint Task Force. The exercise is designed to enhance multilateral collaboration in support of future combined operations, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters. This exercise is a major undertaking and illustrates the closeness of the Australian and U.S. alliance and the strength of the military-to-military relationship.

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