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NORFOLK, Va. - The crew of amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD1) celebrated the grand reopening of the mess decks with a surf and turf lunch, July 19, 2022. Sailors were finally able to sit across the table from one another and share a meal. After a demanding 17-month dry-dock selected restricted availability, the once desolate space was filled with the smell of food and the sound of laughter.
Another notable change made during the closure of the galleys is the addition of vinyl wrapped murals. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rodell Hardaway, Wasp’s food service officer, said he and his team really wanted to create a relaxing, inviting space for Sailors.
On the walls, photographs depict Sailors conducting various exercises and operations during previous deployments. When the last of the Sailors in the photos have left, their impact will continue to be felt onboard Wasp.
New equipment has been installed, replacing the old. Brand new kettles, ovens and an additional fridge will allow the storage of more supplies while underway, explained Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Agaalofa Ale, a wardroom galley watch captain. These upgrades ultimately deliver an enhanced dining experience for the crew.
While the new 21-day menu may have some of the crew’s favorites, there will be some healthier options added as well.
“You know when you’re going to have Taco Tuesday, Burger Wednesday and Pizza Saturday,” said Hardaway. “In addition to the standard menu, the Navy is going more to the green side with less salt and less sugar.”
The menu also has more of an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, explained Hardaway. All of this is in hopes of helping Sailors stay healthy and keep a steady weight.
During the time Wasp was operating without a galley, the S-5 division Leading Chief Petty Officer Culinary Specialist Senior Chief Patricia Bermudez sent her Sailors to advanced schools.
“For as long as we have been in the yards, a total of 18 personnel have gone to Galley Watch Captain School,” said Bermudez. This school trains more innovative methods of cooking and dives into the mathematics on how to prepare meals using practical methods.
“As soon as I got out of “A” school, I was excited to actually start working. I came here, and the galley wasn’t operational,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Recruit Hayden Clark. “Now, the galley is looking amazing. I am excited to actually put my skills to use.”
The completed renovation of the mess decks has had a major impact on the crew and mission readiness thanks to the dedicated CSs.
“This is the best crew I have ever worked with over the 18 years. These CSs, they leave it all on the line,” said Bermudez. “Every day, they come in and give it their all.”