NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- For the first time ever, the sweet smell of fresh-baked bread wafted through the passageways of (PCU) Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), beckoning her crew to come and see what's cookin' at the 'First Meal Celebration' in the ship's galley Oct. 30.
The Sailors began the process of moving the crew aboard this week -- breathing life into their ship. Eating together is one of the first things a united crew can do.
"Moving aboard is all about ownership," said Ronald Reagan Galley Leading Chief, Senior Chief Mess Specialist David Robertson.
The carrier's cooks, called mess specialists, prepared food for approximately 2,600 Sailors and guests from the Navy's largest floating kitchen. A feast of Virginia baked ham, grilled T-bone steak, roasted turkey, crab, shrimp, scallops and fresh fish was prepared for the crew and guests.
The cooks' motto, "Take what you want, but eat what you take," is displayed on signs around the mess decks. Sailors stacked their plates high with the bounty of the feasts, and after dining, their groans of overeating could be heard over the din of construction noise.
The Sailors working in the galley are setting a high standard for future operations.
"For junior mess specialists, this was their opportunity to do the job they were training for and show off their skills," said Mess Specialist 2nd Class Jeffrey Walker. "It's a lot of work, but it is well worth it," he said.
For the galley crew, the challenge was to show their shipmates what they could expect for everyday meals from their galley. They will provide a wider variation of entrees, maximize self-service on the mess decks, and make meals available to Sailors around the clock.
"What will make us so unique is keeping the mess decks continuously replenished with food," said Robertson.
This means Ronald Reagan Sailors will spend less time standing in line and be able to decide when to eat and what to eat according to their taste and schedule.
A quality galley does more than keep Sailors fed, it keeps them happy.
"Outstanding food service is awesome for morale," Robertson said. If he has his way, "Ronald Reagan will have the most motivated crew in the fleet."
Ronald Reagan will be commissioned in Norfolk on May 10, 2003. For more information about the ship and Sailors who will serve aboard USS Ronald Reagan visit the ship's website www.reagan.navy.mil.
For more information about the commissioning ceremony for USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) visit the Navy League website www.ussronaldreagan.org.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76.