Monday, April 06, 2009

Comfort's galley ensures crew is ready for action

Here's a story that Tyrone will appreciate. He spent the better part of one and one-half years directing culinary operations on the hospital ship African Mercy.

The Navy hospital ship USNS
Comfort operates under joint arrangement where civilian merchant mariners operate, navigate and maintain the ship. The ship-board hospital is operated by Navy medical officers, hospital corpsmen and support personnel.

By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Stratton

USNS COMFORT, At Sea (NNS) (April 6, 2009) -- The USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) galley is responsible for feeding more than 800 people during its four-month humanitarian mission to Latin America and the Caribbean during Continuing Promise 2009.

Many people may be surprised to know how important the galley crews are to the successful completion of the mission when it comes to keeping the crew's morale high and appetite at bay.

"Without the Sailors working in the galley, we can't accomplish our mission," said Lt. j.g. Evan Toatley, Comfort food service officer. "If you want to defeat any army or navy, you have to cut off their supply route and their food. Therefore, the food operation is pivotal. Just as keeping up with the steady metabolism of the crew is an important aspect to the galley's mission it also provides a chance for the crew to relax and "de-stress."

"Three meals a day are the only opportunity a lot of people have to take time and relax," said Chief Culinary Specialist Ranilo Fernandez, Comfort's leading chief petty officer of the galley. "It is a time the crew can get away from the monotony of everyday work.

"These three meals are the time the culinary specialists are in the spotlight. It is their opportunity to showcase their skills and contributions to the mission of what the crew calls, "America's most prestigious ship."

"We are the leaders of the pack," said Seaman Apprentice Crystal Waters, Comfort food service attendant. "Most of us are hospitalman apprentices who came over from Bethesda (National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda). So this isn't our primary job, but we'll do what we can to complete the mission."

"My Sailors have expertise, motivation and drive and really enjoy what they do," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Daniel Andriach. "I put a lot of trust in them. There are times when I place an E-2 in charge of the beverage and salad bar line, and they perform their duties time and time again better than any I've seen in my more than twenty-year career.

"There are many jobs involved in feeding the crew of the Comfort. In addition to serving food, Sailors work in the dish room, supply room, preparation, deep wash and administration.

"My favorite thing about our job is getting to know every single crew member," he said. "We get to meet every officer and enlisted crew member who comes through the line." said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Keerat-Vijay Singh, leading galley petty officer.

The first to wake and the last to sleep, the galley crew runs a 24-hour operation and deserve many thanks and smiles, according to Singh.

"We really appreciate all their hard work and dedication to this crew and our mission," Singh said.

From enlisted to officer to non-governmental organizations and international partners, the galley crew meet and greet many people from all walks of life.

"We need to show our appreciation for the galley kids," said Navy Capt. James J. Ware, Comfort medical treatment facility manager. "The success of our mission stems from nutritious meals to outstanding customer service."

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