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Navy Tales: Life and Food Aboard an Aircraft Carrier, Part 1

Life on a Navy carrier with emphasis on the mealtime experience.

Sorry it has been a while since the last blog, but hopefully I am back on a regular schedule now!

This will be a series of posts on the same subject...FOOD.

First, a little background information. During my time in the Navy, I was on two different newer aircraft carriers (USS Saratoga, and USS Independence). When all the aircraft squadrons were aboard, as they were on a cruise, there were about 5,000 men aboard, and we were gone for five or six months. In order to appreciate the size of these ships, I'm posting a picture from above with a bunch of people on the flight deck...see all the little white dots? Yes, those are sailors in white uniforms!

There were usually four meals a day (remenber, the ship operated 24 hours a day all the time.) They were called breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midrats. Now I'm sure the first three are no surprise, but the last one really stood for midnight rations, but many people thought the last half of the word referred to the small furry rodents that inhabited some civilian ships that were not kept clean. I never saw any sign of them.

Breakfast was usually served from about 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. They had the usual assortment of things, with a variety from day to day. Some days, they even had donuts, or sweet rolls, but apparently, someone (the cooks?) beat us to those so we rarely got them. Too bad, because we could smell them for hours before the mess hall opened!

To eat, you usually stood in a long line that wound through the ship, and up, and down ladders (navy word for stairs, but they were very steep.). First, you came to a large board with the meal menu on it. This always sounded great, and made you hungry. Then you got your metal compartmented tray, and silverware (carefully planned so if there was anything tough, like steak, they were out of knives, and if there was good soup, there were no spoons) and you reached the serving line.

One of the frequent items on the breakfast menu was "eggs to order". So you might think, "Oh boy...I can get them however I like." WRONG! You got fried eggs, or sunny side up if they were in a hurry. It was interesting to watch the cook break four eggs at a time (two in each hand) and fill the entire grill in a few minutes. He then flipped them over, and served them. When you were in front of something you wanted, you stuck your tray out toward the server, and he put some on it. At the end of the serving line, you went out to the area with tables, and got a seat.

I think I'll stop here for today, and continue with breakfast next time.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lu Feng January 04, 2013 at 05:03 AM
hey, I like your blog, keep on writting
Lu Feng January 04, 2013 at 05:17 AM
Thanks for your information. I recently read a Chinese article from a Chinese goverment website (no idea where it is comes from) about the meals at US aircraft carrier which said " all kinds of great food such as lobsters and more than 10 optional salad are unlimited served for a meal" at end of the article, it said " the food served at the carrier can beat family meals in most of American families".
John Morrissette January 04, 2013 at 07:18 AM
Thanks a lot for your comment...I plan to start back with them soon, and I'll start where I left off. I never saw anything like lobster...just basic food. Some ships food was better than others, but it was due to the people in charge of preparing it being better, and caring more about doing a good job! Salad was from a salad bar, and you normally had less than ten ITEMS to choose from. I think it would be safe to say that most sailors ate better when at home than aboard ship.

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