USS Makin Island Sailors and Marines Enjoy Break with Steel Beach Picnic
RED SEA –- More than 2,300 Sailors and Marines deployed aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) took a break from normal operations for a steel beach picnic, Nov. 9.
The picnic fell on the 65th consecutive day at sea for the Sailors and Marines, who are currently maintaining operational readiness in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
“We stand ready to deliver combat power or humanitarian assistance globally,” said Capt. Alvin Holsey, Makin Island’s commanding officer. “This ship never sleeps, and 24/7 Sailors and Marines are standing watch, preparing and readying their shipmates for all tasking. Today, we took a well deserved break to ensure members of Team Raider got a chance to reset and enjoy a different side of life at sea.”
After spending several weeks at sea without a port call, the Sailors and Marines aboard Makin Island enjoyed festivities and socialized in the hangar bay.
The day consisted of a number of Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored events to help the crew and embarked Marines relax including a dodgeball tournament, a concert and games in the hangar bay.
“We all pulled together as a team to make sure everyone had a great time,” said Kristen Venoy, Makin Island’s “Fun Boss,” from Gainesville, Florida. “I would like to especially thank Air Department for helping clear out the hangar bay on such short notice as we were originally going to have all the activities on the flight deck.”
The hangar bay was packed with Sailors and Marines throughout the day.
“We prepared 2,000 pounds of chicken, 800 pounds of burgers and over 700 pounds of hot dogs to feed the crew today,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Vijay Cephas from New York. “I’d like to thank all the food-service attendants and culinary specialist’s who helped out, as well as the First Class Petty Officer Association and the Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) volunteers who worked together as a team to help make this a successful event.”
Cephas continued, “We were split up into different shifts so I got to enjoy time off as well. My favorite event was the sumo wrestling.”
Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) said they also enjoyed the break in the daily routine.
“I had a great time today,” said Sgt. Justin Barnes, from Clifton, Kansas, whose team won the dodgeball tournament beating out 23 other teams. “Our team was patient and executed when we needed and we worked together throughout the five games to win the championship.”
A concert was held by Makin Island’s official band named ‘Frame 126’ in the ship’s hangar bay as well.
“Our band was formed in the safety office, hence the name,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Samuel White, band member, from Sacramento, California. “What started as a concert turned into an open-mic karaoke event,” said White.
The hangar bay was cleared of games and food for a cinema-at-sea to end the day.
Venoy added, “I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about today and we hope to have another event like this again in the near future.”
The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.