USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The first day of summer may not be until June 20 but, for the Sailors and Marines of aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the season seemed to be in full swing as the carrier held a "steel beach" picnic, June 15, on the ship's flight deck.
The day's festivities included activities such as sumo suits, jousting, mini pools, water guns, trike races and a driving range (with bio-degradable golf balls).
Grills run by the carrier's Mustang Association were churning out hot dogs, burgers and chicken while bands and DJ's, "moved the crowd."
This kind of event takes a great deal of coordination to pull off given the logistics involved and the number of Sailors and Marines aboard Enterprise. Lt. Cmdr. Jason Endress, Enterprise's Principal Assistant for Services, was one of the individuals charged with bringing the first "steel beach" picnic of the carrier's 22nd and final deployment to fruition.
"It took a lot of coordination between all the departments," said Endress. "[The aircraft handling officer] gave us the space on the flight deck and helped us with the elevator runs so we could get all of our grills, tables and food up here. Engineering and Combat Systems helped us with the sound systems, and all the electrical and MWR and food services set up and manned the event."
The Mustang Association provided the grilling manpower necessary to serve up food to more than 4,600 Sailors and Marines on the flight deck.
"The Mustang Association wanted to give the crew a break - especially the food service attendants - and just mingle and let the enlisted Sailors know what the LDO (limited duty officer) program is all about," said Lt. Harry Adair, assistant flight deck officer and one of several Mustangs manning the grills on the flight deck.
Events like these are meant to improve the crew's morale and strengthen the bonds between the Sailors and Marines aboard Enterprise.
"Everyone is out here working seven days a week for the entire time we are out at sea. Even though port visits have been kind of frequent, they are still not frequent enough to count as having weekends and holidays where you get to go to your own BBQ's and have your own relaxing days," said Megan Villapudua, Enterprise "Fun Boss. "It's important to get everyone out here and show them that we appreciate them. That's what Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) is here for."
Despite the massive coordination that went into planning the event, it seemed to be worth the effort due to the impact it had on the morale of the crew.
"We have to make sure they (the crew) get time off every now and then to blow off some steam, dance, listen to some good music, eat some good food and enjoy each others' camaraderie," said Endress.
Whether they were working the event or just enjoying the festivities, it seems the steel beach picnic was a big hit among the crew.
"This was my first steel beach and it was very entertaining," said Lance Cpl. Adrian Robinson, assigned to the Thunderbolts of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 251. "I had a good time and I think it really boosted everyone's morale."
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