A look into the culinary process aboard the USS San Jacinto

The goal of the chefs is to provide quality meals even when the sailors are thousands of miles away from home.
Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 8:42 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2023 at 8:45 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After a long day of work, preparing a meal for your family can often be difficult.

Now imagine having to cook for 300 sailors at sea.

Have you ever wondered what kind of food sailors eat or where the food comes from if they start running out? We took a deeper dive into the galley of the USS San Jacinto to find answers to these questions.

Serving Navy sailors is similar to serving a few hundred kids at school, but inventory is harder to go by when you’re in the middle of the ocean.

When a ship first begins its deployment, there’s a lot of fresh food on board. But as the supply starts to dwindle, an “underway replenishment,” delivered by another supply ship, occurs to ensure that there is plenty of food in stock.

The process involves two ships matching their speeds to one another and connecting lines from one vessel to another. Supplies are then zipped across the water like a zipline.

Another way to replenish food is from the sky with “vertical replenishment,” which occurs when helicopters drop the supplies onto the ships’ deck.

As for what the sailors eat daily, it’s not so different than when they’re back at home.

“For the week, we go off a 21-day cycle, but Wednesdays and Tuesdays are pretty consistent. We have taco Tuesday and on Wednesday we have burger day, which those are pretty consistent,” said Dycquan Dookie, Third Class Petty Officer Culinary Specialist.

The goal of the chefs is to provide quality meals even when the sailors are thousands of miles away from home.

Dookie said that when you’re at sea you can’t have your typical food chain restaurants, so the sailors treat pizza day as if they’re having Dominos and Taco Bell when it’s Taco Tuesday.

For 300 people, they’re required to make 900 meals a day, and that’s not including late-night snacks.

With the number of people the chefs feed, they try to make simple meals and keep the line moving. The chefs, however, can get creative with their dishes when they’re serving a smaller group, such as in the wardroom for higher-ranking officials.

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