NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) gathered on the ship's aft mess decks Oct. 7 to feast on the first free meal served to the crew since the "Gold Eagle" entered its scheduled shipyard period in late 2005.
The celebratory meal - symbolic of the progress the ship is making in its Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) and its imminent return to operational status - brought crew members together to enjoy a hearty lunch that consisted of steak, crab legs and all the trimmings.
"This meal marks the beginning of a big shift in food service on board and a big milestone for the ship," said Chief Warrant Officer Brian Armstrong, the ship's food service officer. "It's a good day for the whole crew."
The first serving of free meals on board coincided with the termination of the commuted rations (COMRATS) form of basic allowance for subsistence (BAS) that was provided for the "Gold Eagle" crew before any of the ship's galleys were fully operational. Now that the aft galley and mess decks have been brought back to pristine functional condition, crew members will instead be served three free, hot meals a day on board.
Carl Vinson's culinary specialists and food service attendants put several hours of preparation into the special meal. About 820 pounds of steak, 400 pounds of crab and 600 pounds of potatoes were served to the crew, in addition to a full salad bar, side dishes and desserts.
"It was a lot of work; we started preparing at 4 a.m., and we started marinating the steaks two hours before that," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Maria Husbands. "There are a lot more mouths to feed now that the food is free, but it turned out really well. The crew was happy, and that's what matters most."
USS Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.
During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare her for another 25 years or more of service.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.