NEWPORT NEWS, Va (NNS) -- Sailors aboard aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) can now savor the flavor of signature Starbucks espresso and cream as they start their day, as of May 1.
The Big Sip, a coffee shop located off TR's aft mess decks, opened for business, serving Starbucks brand beverages to the ship's crew. The first steaming cup of Joe went to Capt. Daniel Grieco, TR's commanding officer.
"I've been on aircraft carriers now for about 25 years, and I can tell you that this is unprecedented from my perspective," Grieco said. "It's kind of neat to bring a little bit of Americana onto the ship so that when we're underway and gone for a long period of time, we can live the normal lives we would like to live every single day," he said.
Sailors from S-3 Division, which is headed up by Senior Chief Ship's Serviceman (SW/AW) Shannon Franck, run The Big Sip. Franck beams over the efforts of her team to convert the space that is now home to the cafe.
"A lot of work went into it," Franck said. "It used to be an ice cream machine shop before. We had to move out all the machines that were in there. The shipyard helped us out by moving all the machinery out. Then we had a contractor come in there, design it for us, and get it situated. Our part of it was ordering all of the products for it."
Ship Serviceman Seaman Tamara Pope, the seaman-in-charge of the cafe, cut the ceremonial red ribbon with Grieco, at the opening ceremony. After which she worked the first shift in the cafe.
"The first half hour was hectic, but I got through it," Pope said. "I know there are going to be long lines, so I've got to get used to it. I worked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77), and they had long lines there too. So I was expecting it."
Pope received training as a barista aboard the Bush, which has a similar coffee shop called The Lonestar Cafe. She was responsible for training TR Sailors who work at The Big Sip.
Events, such as this opening ceremony, are not just brewed overnight.
"This is the culmination of about a year's worth of efforts," said Cmdr. Mark Runstrom, TR's Supply Officer. "We've had folks who were trained by Starbucks employees." Specifically, representatives from Starbucks came aboard TR prior to The Big Sip's opening to show Sailors how to make their signature beverages.
As for the coffee shop's name, Runstrom said it was selected through a shipwide nomination process. Members of the crew were invited to email suggestions for the cafe's name. After 130 suggestions, The Big Sip was selected. The name is a play on the ship's nickname "America's Big Stick," which comes a "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far," a West African proverb and policy used by the ship's namesake, president Theodore Roosevelt, throughout his career.
"Well done to everybody who put the time and effort who did this," Grieco said. "I'm really proud of you guys for all the effort that's gone in to make this happen. It's a huge boost for the crew."
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For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/
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For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/