The old saying “an army marches on its stomach” is also true of warships, with crews relying on their chefs to provide nutritious meals to keep them sailing.
The chefs aboard HMAS Choules can now produce serve up to 2100 meals a day thanks to a recent upgrade to the ship’s galley.
The galley has been fitted with the best commercial-grade catering equipment, including new ovens, fryers, and grills and has been redesigned to improve efficiency.
Chief Petty Officer Maritime Logistics – Chef Drew Robinson said this type of upgrade could take up to 14 weeks but was done in 11 to fit between overseas deployments.
“We returned from our last South West Pacific deployment at the start of April and it’s been a massive job to get the galley upgraded and ready for use before we head to sea again.
“We have all the latest commercial catering equipment like ovens, fryers, heavy-duty bratt pans, a baker’s oven, mixing machine and bread slicer.
“We have more working and storage spaces and the functional layout has been changed from a forward-to-aft configuration to a port-to-starboard, so when we open an oven the roll of the ship doesn’t move the trays inside,” Chief Petty Officer Robinson said.
Choules’ role as a troop-carrying ship means she must be able to efficiently feed more than 350 embarked forces members in addition to her crew of more than 150 officers and sailors.
The galley upgrades also mean the ship is better prepared to provide meals to large numbers of survivors during humanitarian and disaster relief operations, which is a critical part of Choules’ mission profile in a region facing annual natural disaster seasons.
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Ben Kleemeyer said the new modern equipment requires less monitoring and maintenance, leaving chefs more time to focus on the quality of their meals.
“Our old deep fryers used to have harder mechanism to clean them. Now we can filter it and use the oil again, and our old ovens didn’t steam vegetables as well compared to the new ones.
“Today we’ve got chicken schnitzel, pies and spinach and ricotta ravioli for lunch, which would have been lot harder and required a lot more manpower before the galley upgrade,” Able Seaman Kleemeyer said.
HMAS Choules is homeported at Garden Island in Sydney and will soon deploy to the South West Pacific for the second time this year.