Mess Decks Masters-At-Arms Play Vital Role in Ship's Sanitation

Story Number: NNS100322-18Release Date: 3/22/2010 8:38:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jonnie Hobby, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (NNS) -- The mess deck masters-at-arms, or "red shirts", aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) work together with the food service assistants (FSAs), to maintain cleanliness and efficiency on the mess decks.

The red shirts and the FSAs serve three meals every day aboard Truman to 2,000 to 5,000 personnel. To help provide a rotation, they are split into two sections, port and starboard.

Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Corey Southworth, starboard section's leading mess deck master-at-arms, said a positive relationship between the mess deck masters-at-arms and the FSAs is very important.

"Being a supervisor is sometimes challenging," said Southworth. "You have to look at each individual to figure out how they work and how to keep them motivated to do their jobs. The FSA billet is pretty tough, so we try to make it easier on them by giving out breaks and commendation for their hard work."

Chief Machinist's Mate (SW/AW) Jose Joseph, mess deck chief master-at-arms, said teamwork is critical to the mission of the mess decks.

"Teamwork is the only way this job can be done," said Joseph. "The red shirts cannot do it by themselves, and the FSAs cannot do it by themselves. Therefore, it is a team effort. It is very important that they get along so everything runs smoothly."

Joseph oversees 114 FSAs and mess deck masters-at-arms personnel. To ensure they conduct their food service duties in a clean and professional working environment, training is held three times a week by Joseph and the red shirts.

"They interact with the FSAs on a daily basis," said Joseph. "They provide training in basic military knowledge, as well as training in their day-to-day jobs. Teamwork and training are the cornerstones of outstanding operations on the mess decks."

Once the positive and professional relationship is established between the mess deck masters-at-arms and the FSAs, one key element still remains in upholding their mission: morale.

"The mess decks make up the centerfold of the whole ship," said Southworth. "People not only come here to eat, but to socialize and interact. When the food is great, morale goes up around the ship. After work, Sailors come down here to play cards and dominoes and sing karaoke. All those things help us strive to do our jobs."

As with any restaurant, customer service plays a vital part in the mess decks' goal.

"If the crew has any issues with the mess decks, they can speak to the red shirts", said Joseph. "We are here to fix any problems around the mess decks to the best of our ability. Our jobs are to resolve these issues no matter what."

While the mission of the mess decks requires long hours and hard work from the red shirts and FSAs, they work together every day as a team to help keep Truman mission-ready.

"They are the best," Joseph said. "The red shirts and the FSAs are the main reasons we are the cleanest, most efficient division on the ship. I am so proud of all the hard work they do every day. I couldn't ask for a better team."

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