USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea - Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) has been named a finalist for the 2012 Capt. Edward F. Ney Memorial Awards for Food Service Excellence, according to an official naval message released Sept. 14 by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Makin Island, representing the U.S. Pacific Fleet in the large afloat category, will compete against the Norfolk-based USS Bataan (LHD 5), representing the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, for the overall title later this year.
Culinary Specialist 1st Class James Nagle, the leading petty officer of the ship's food service division, said he attributes his team's success to hard work and dedication from all Sailors and Marines involved in serving the crew.
"It is a privilege just to be nominated for the prestigious Ney Award," said Nagle. "The team we have, from our food service attendants all the way up to the senior leadership on Makin Island, is the only reason why we can even be considered for this award."
Nagle said this is not the first time the food service team has been recognized. The division recently earned the Supply Management Inspection certification with a near-perfect score that qualified the ship for the Ney award nomination.
"It's now going to take us a lot of hard work and some long hours to go higher than the nomination, and actually be the best of the best," said Nagle. "It will be tough over the next few weeks with our underway periods with Marines, and our preparing for deployment, but I feel confident in my team."
Chief Warrant Officer Robert Favela, the ship's food service officer, said the crew continues to reap the benefits from a dedicated food service team that has proven itself with a reputation for excellence.
"We have hosted food tastings, a dinner for former President Bill Clinton, a change of command for [Commander] 3rd Fleet and other events that all contributed to our reputation," he said.
Favela added that the galley crew strives to ensure that more than 3,000 Sailors and Marines get served the high quality meals they deserve each day.
This fall, an evaluation team of senior Navy management specialists and members of the International Food Service Executive Association (IFSEA) will make a one-day, surprise inspection of the ship's food service program. The results will be announced next spring.
The Secretary of the Navy and the IFSEA joined together to created the awards program in 1958 to improve Navy food operations and recognize excellent messes in the Navy. The award is named for Capt. Edward F. Ney who served as the head of the Subsistence Division of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounting, from 1940-1945.
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."