Feeding the fleet

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Max Logan (author), ABIS Tara Byrne (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Canberra (L02), Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Samantha Wetherspoon in the HMAS Canberra galley during Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER 2018. (photo: ABIS Tara Byrne)
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Samantha Wetherspoon in the HMAS Canberra galley during Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER 2018.

Providing three meals a day to personnel in Navy’s warships is an essential, but often overlooked, element of warfighting capability.

In Amphibious Assault Ship HMAS Canberra, chefs in the galley can cater for up to 1,500 personnel, ensuring daily energy and nutritional requirements are met. Additional meals are prepared for those with specific dietary needs and chefs work long into the night to provide 'midnighters’ for the ship’s watchkeepers.

Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Christopher Johnson has served in the Navy for nine years and said working long days in the galley is challenging but enjoyable.

“I actually love the pressure associated with producing hundreds of meals in a matter of hours; for me, that’s fun.

“Many of our chefs also have secondary roles as Standing Sea Fire Party and Ship’s Medical Emergency Team members so we rely on each other heavily to get the food out on time.

“It’s a challenging operation and effective organisation is key,” Leading Seaman Johnson said.

The galley has successfully catered for additional personnel onboard Canberra for Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER 2018.

It has been a valuable experience for Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Samantha Wetherspoon who has a working background in frigates but enjoys the camaraderie onboard the larger ship Canberra.

“Being onboard the flagship for Exercise OCEAN EXPLORER, I have experienced a different dynamic and work environment,” she said.

“There are more people in the team to share the workload. I used to operate by myself but now I’m on watch with other chefs and logistics personnel.

“Even though we are catering for more people it feels a lot more secure, there are plenty of people who have your back.