Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David Flewellyn, NPASE Japan
YOKOSUKA, Japan — Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) completed her evaluation as a finalist in the competition for the 2014 Capt. Edward F. Ney Award for Food Service Excellence at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Jan. 13.
The award was created to assess various aspects of a ship’s food service division such as manning and quality of food served. It is designed to improve food service operations and recognize the best general messes in the Navy.
“It’s a proud honor to be a finalist, because the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) recognizes the hard work we put forth,” said Master Chief Culinary Specialist Russ Paje, McCampebll’s assistant food service officer. “It signifies that we are in the top one percent of our group.”
Chief Warrant Officer Alicia A. Lawrence, NAVSUP food service readiness officer, conducted the evaluation. Lawrence inspected food service spaces, observed food preparations, reviewed financial records and toured storerooms. During the evaluation, Lawrence interacted with the food service team to check their level of knowledge.
Once the inspection was complete, Lawrence sat with the crew in the general mess and sampled a meal. She even met with the food service team for an impromptu question and answer session after lunch.
“Whatever you do, be the best at what you do and you’ll go far,” Lawrence said to the team. “Let your performance speak for itself; nobody can take that away from you.”
For many members of McCampbell’s culinary team, being evaluated so early in their careers is a rare opportunity.
“Someone might go through 25 years of service without ever being nominated,” said Lt. Andrew Krantz, McCampbell’s supply officer. “It means so much to our team. For some of them, to be this early in their careers and recognized in this way is outstanding.”
Despite the long hours preparing for the inspection, the food service team was ready for the chance to be recognized for the hard work they give every day to feed the crew of McCampbell.
“It’s great to be nominated,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Shanelle Belvin. “It’s my first ship and I’ve only been here less than a year. It’s just very exciting to be recognized.”
Paje spoke of his Sailor’s dedication to their craft and the hard work that went into shaping the ship’s mess into a high-quality service to McCambell Sailors, as well as an active contender in the finals for the Ney.
“Lots of long hours and meticulous attention to detail, along with plenty of enthusiasm, go into winning this prestigious award,” said Paje. “It’s all about presentation and doing the job right all the time.”
The results of the final inspection will arrive in April. McCampbell will compete against other ships across the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations for the award.