Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristopher Haley
USS Makin Island (LHD 8)
ARABIAN GULF – The USS Makin Island (LHD 8) food service team hit a deployment milestone, serving its one millionth meal aboard the amphibious assault ship Feb. 20.
The count started when the ship departed its San Diego homeport in early October. The ship, part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, is deployed with Marines assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and has served three meals a day for more than 2,500 Sailors and Marines without break since the ship has been unable to conduct a typical port visit due to the COVID pandemic.
“The daily grind of the food service team is an uphill battle,” said Chief Warrant Officer Donald Freel, the ship’s food service officer. “The Navy and Marine cooks we have on board, along with the [food service attendants], work diligently together to care for the welfare of the crew.”
Makin Island’s food service team has fewer than 50 Navy culinary specialist and 15 Marine cooks who work in three distinct facilities aboard the ship – the main mess decks, the Chiefs Mess, and the officer’s wardroom – as well as 100 additional Navy and Marine food service attendants who assist in serving meals and maintaining cleanliness in food service areas.
“The food services division is selfless in serving everyone no matter what they have going on,” said Airman Samuel Tons, an air department Sailor and happy customer aboard Makin Island. “They make sure we get good, sumptuous meals and do their best to make us all happier.”
In addition to hitting a milestone for how many meals served, Makin Island is also competitive in the quality of their meals as well.
The ship is currently a finalist for the Ney award for food service excellence from a big-deck galley in the Pacific Fleet, and earned the best-in-class score for the Supply Management Certification Inspection in 2020.
The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.
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