NORFOLK (NNS) — The Supply Department aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) was awarded the 2018 Capt. Edward F. Ney award, Feb. 26.
The Ney Award for food service excellence was established in 1958 and is awarded to Navy galleys that earn a five-star rating for food production, sanitation and management. Abraham Lincoln’s food service team of more than 200 Sailors started ramping up to meet the Ney standard for over a year.
After competing against all other aircraft carriers, Abraham Lincoln was selected to represent the East Coast in Oct. of last year and won against the west coast nominee, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
“Supply has come so far, it’s good see them being recognized,” said Commanding Officer Capt. Putnam H. Browne. “Everyone talks about how good the food on our ship is, but it comes at a huge cost for those Sailors- they work really hard. So it’s awesome to see they’re able to strike a balance between the hard work and sustaining excellence to make Abraham Lincoln a trendsetter for the fleet.”
Abraham Lincoln is just beginning the second half of her life, having completed her mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) in May 2017, so the recognition of the Ney award is a validation of the efforts that have been made by Sailors across every department to set a high standard for operational excellence since her redelivery to the Fleet.
“Seeing hard work get rewarded is the best thing that could happen,” said Supply Officer Cmdr. Shannon Walker. “The food service team saw the challenges, made the plans and executed the mission. Their hard work is noticed on this ship and that’s what matters.”
Walker said the biggest challenge for the food service team was the timing. Once the RCOH maintenance period was complete, Abraham Lincoln moved straight into her deployment-readiness cycle, while still serving four meals a day to more than 5,000 Sailors, making it a leadership challenge to find time to continue to train and improve standards.
“I am extremely proud of the food service Sailors,” said Master Chief Culinary Specialist Carlos Billingslea, Abraham Lincoln’s galley division leading chief petty officer. “They are professional and humble and continue to display initiative and great customer service day in and day out.”
Type Commander (TYCOM) representatives visited the ship to assess the Supply Department’s ability to provide Sailors with quality meals, customer service and operational procedural compliance. Abraham Lincoln was able to showcase their best by putting in full 15-hour days of hard work.
“There is a saying we learn in culinary specialist school from day one, ‘Ney ready every day,’” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Chastity Edmonds, a main galley cook. “That’s how we’ve been working to lead up to this aboard Abraham Lincoln. It’s surreal that all of that hard work paid off.”
The food service attendants temporarily assigned to Abraham Lincoln’s Supply Department also played a role in the evaluation. The sanitation of the galley and mess decks were scored in TYCOM’s final assessment.
“Our job is to make sure all the galley spaces and appliances and cookware are clean so Sailors don’t get sick while eating,” said Intelligence Specialist 3rd Class Christian Kyler, a food service attendant aboard Abraham Lincoln. “I think it showed everyone that when our Sailors come together, we can be an amazing group. I’m proud of everyone that worked together to meet this accomplishment.”
Billingslea said once his Sailors reached a goal that he’d set for them, he would make an even higher goal for them to aim toward. The food service Sailors were able to meet these goals each time building a team that couldn’t be broken down.
“Collectively culinary specialists and food service attendants solidify the ship when it comes to teamwork and morale. Sailors wake up in the morning and have a hot breakfast then go to sleep with a full stomach. Morale begins and ends the day with Supply. I’ve served in the Navy for 28 years and this is the best group of Sailors I’ve worked with.”
Abraham Lincoln is the flagship for Carrier Strike Group Twelve, which also includes Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and ships assigned to Destroyer Squadron 2: the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Nitze (DDG 94).
The components of the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group embody a “team-of-teams” concept, combining advanced surface, air and systems assets to create and sustain operational capability. This enables them to prepare for and conduct global operations, have effective and lasting command and control, and demonstrate dedication and commitment to become the strongest warfighting force for the Navy and the nation.
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.