As Abraham Lincoln overcomes storms, chefs must be ready to cook for 4,200

Story Number: NNS180924-10Release Date: 9/24/2018 11:07:00 AM
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By MCSN Nikki Custer, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The order for all ships to sortie out of the Hampton Roads area sent the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN) into the Atlantic Ocean to navigate the ebbs and flows of hurricane conditions. Consequently, the ship’s crew was tasked with making short-notice adjustments to its schedule.

The food service division responsible for providing nutritious meals to Abraham Lincoln Sailors overcame the challenges of adapting its galley menu from in port to at sea conditions.

“Abraham Lincoln must be ready to deploy at any moment,” said Chief Culinary Specialist Levy Obana, one of the leading chief petty officers in charge of Abraham Lincoln’s Food Service Division. “Supplies must be appropriately stocked to ensure operational mission readiness.”

Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) issues a menu plan to all ships in the U.S. Navy fleet on a rotating 21-day cycle. The menu contains two versions in order to support any ship at sea or in port. The menus don’t change with the seasonal availability of food but are issued to commands by region. Abraham Lincoln resides in the Atlantic region under instruction by the Regional Commander. The type commander (TYCOM) leads the ships homeported in Hampton Roads and is the liaison between Abraham Lincoln and the Sustenance Supply Vendor that delivers its food products.

The menu provided by NAVSUP ensures each meal is well-rounded for proper nutrition. Meals must consist of two starches, two vegetables and three main entrée items. Although the menus are prescheduled, the ship’s staff responsible for implementing them must be ready to adapt to spur-of-the-moment changes.

Abraham Lincoln’s culinary specialists prepare meals for approximately 2,100 enlisted Sailors in port. That number rises to more than 4,200 enlisted Sailors when underway. This requires the opening of a second mess deck for the crew, which has a separate menu. The chiefs’ mess and wardroom have menus to support 300 to 360 chiefs and officers both in port and underway. This number can also rise to accommodate any squadrons embarked with ship’s company.

“Ensuring that our department has enough product to support both menus necessitates proper planning and accurate record of inventory,” Obana said. “As required by the TYCOM, Abraham Lincoln, an operational carrier, is required at all times to have enough supplies to sustain the entire ship’s staff for 30 to 45 days.”

In the event of an unexpected underway, such as the sortie brought on by Hurricane Florence, the first step is to review the perishable items aboard the ship such as eggs, milk and cheese. Directly following this assessment, an order is placed to replenish these items. The TYCOM is prepared to accommodate emergency events, so the requested items are delivered within 24 hours.

“When we receive an emergency shipment, I notify the ship’s supply officer,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brook Cross, Abraham Lincoln’s food service officer. “The supply S-8 division assists in loading the items aboard the ship.

Once the food is adequately stocked, Abraham Lincoln’s culinary specialists and food service attendants must adapt to the increased operational tempo induced by the spike of the on-board population.

 “As the menu shifts from in port to at sea, the culinary staff’s work load nearly doubles and working hours change,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Campos, a Wardroom watch captain. “We must be flexible and acclimate ourselves to the heightened work load. We are lucky to have good leadership who isn’t afraid to help out if needed, and the galleys work together to get the job done.”

Abraham Lincoln’s food service workers’ devotion to success and ability to overcome the challenges of short notice alterations to the menu has a positive effect on all of the Sailors assigned to Abraham Lincoln.

“Food provides more than just sustenance to Sailors,” Obana said. “It provides them energy to go back to work satisfied. As cooks and food service workers, our mission is to provide quality service and a variety of nutritious meals. Every member of our team works hard to make this possible.”

An emergency underway requires compliance and fast thinking by all crew members. Sailors’ preparedness for disaster situations directly contributes to mission readiness, and Abraham Lincoln’s culinary specialists and food service staff help ease the hectic conditions that such events often bestow.

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