USS VICKSBURG, At Sea (NNS) -- Guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) joined the rest of the Navy in recognizing Earth Day, April 22, while operating in the Arabian Gulf.
Vicksburg crew members, currently on deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), are actively engaged in protecting the environment.
"It really boils down to the little things," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Steven Pietrusza. "We encourage Sailors to utilize re-usable water bottles, which significantly cuts down on plastic waste. We also use biodegradable cleaning solutions on the ship. These are not only better for the environment, but better for our Sailors, too."
In addition, Vicksburg stays environmentally friendly by sorting its waste into three separate categories: plastic, metal, and paper/food.
"Trash has to be separated aboard the ship," said Seaman Tyler Shafer, one of the Sailors responsible for operating the waste-disposal machines. "If Sailors bring us mixed trash, we send them back to their shops to sort it properly before bringing it back."
Plastic waste aboard Vicksburg is melted and compacted into discs that are offloaded in port. Metal is ground down, then placed in burlap sacks to corrode at the bottom of the sea. All paper and food products are discarded at sea to degrade naturally.
"These procedures are all environmentally friendly and safe," said Shafer.
Additionally, the crew takes it one step further by using electronic resources to cut down on paper use.
"I have noticed a massive change in recent years," said Yeoman 1st Class Kenneth Bryant, the ship's secretary. "We have a greener Navy now because use e-mail and the ship's local computer network to keep track of things, only using paper when we absolutely have to. I think it's important to treat every day like Earth Day."
Vicksburg is deployed with the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR, conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
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