I was in the navy for 8 years and received food from naval destroyers, aircraft carriers, submarines and shore service galleys.
When a ship is in port, there is always a lot of fresh food on board. Just before a ship sets sail, it is restocked with new food and drink.
If you go out to sea for a while, you will start to lose some of the things on board that you take for granted. Fresh milk is usually one of the first things to do. They replace it with powdered milk, and it doesn’t even come close to real milk.
Make no mistake, the food on the ship is actually quite good and you have plenty of it!
When in port, you have access to the freshest food from the Navy, just like your hometown grocery store.
When you wake up in the morning, you go down to the kitchen and enter the queue. There can be 10 guys in a line by the time you sit down to eat, and breakfast is usually served most of the morning because not everyone can eat at the same time, and then it would be too crowded. . On small ships, like destroyers and frigates, you will typically have 4 meals a day. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Mid Rats, a small meal that goes around midnight for people who are still hungry and want something to eat.
On the destroyer I was stationed on, we also regularly had meals cooked directly on the fantail. We always had a 55 gallon keg that was cut in half, and someone from the supply department was frying cheeseburgers, and it was always nice, even in the middle of the Indian Ocean, we were going to have a cook.
For breakfast you can usually order your eggs made to order, there will be a cook or 2, who will take the requests for how you want your eggs to be prepared, they had a rule of no more than 5 eggs, I don’t ‘usually only had 2 most of the time, and I would tell them I want a ham and cheese omelet with 2 eggs, then after I get my eggs I go down the food line and take whatever I want with that, bacon, sausage, like a little buffet really.
Usually on Fridays if we were in port we would have steaks and lobster tails on Friday. I never even really had a lobster tail until I joined the navy. My dad never liked seafood when I was a kid so we never had any in our house.
Lunch and dinner generally looked like a buffet too, pretty much all they had was a line of good food, and you get what you want, and you can always get a new platter and make the tail, if you are hungry. .
The aircraft carrier I was on was actually way too big a ship for me, and I was so glad I only had to stay on it for 2 weeks. The food was good too, and there were 2 galleys, so one was always open, whether the other was closed for cleaning or for whatever reason.
When you have about 5000 people on board you better have a place for them to eat all the time just like a casino, if the ship had slot machines it would be pretty close to the same atmosphere of a buffet.
When I was in transit somewhere in the Indian Ocean, I had to go to Saudi Arabia to catch a flight to Italy, and a helicopter took me along with about 5 others enlisted on this ship from the USNS, and we were just supposed to get on the boat for 2 days, until we got off the ship. They had an enlisted 1st class yeoman who had his own cabin, which only officers get on a regular navy ship.
It was a USNS ship, which meant it had civilian workers and naval personnel supported them. When we ate in their dining room each day, a waiter would come to our table and take your order. I thought I should be laughed at, these guys are wearing civilian clothes and a waiter takes their order, and I can’t even believe it’s real. They give you a choice of 2 selections, kinda like on a plane, and they bring you ice cream for dessert, and I thought it was unreal.
Most of the civilians on this ship weren’t cool like the navy guys, probably because they thought the navy was working for them, which they did on this ship, and I could think of several ways to ‘save money at the navy. !
The submarines receive some of the best food in the fleet. They’re sometimes underwater for so long, and can you imagine if they didn’t have good food?
They have a drink they call bug juice, which is actually Kool-aid or fruit punch. You had better get used to drinking insect juice, if you like something to drink with your meal, after the fresh milk runs out.
Here is one of the craziest things I have witnessed on the ship, and every ship is doing it! It’s such a waste of good food, but I guess you can see how it protects states from pests and bugs, but is it really?
Anytime you go out to sea far, you usually stop in Hawaii to find new stores, as it’s called, which means you stock the ship with fresh produce and meat and stuff like that.
Going around the world and then coming back, before you stop in Hawaii, you have to throw out any food that might have a chance of having any kind of bug from another country, so we have a working group. , maybe 20 guys, and the job is to make a line from the food refrigerators, one ship of which has multiple decks, all with elevators to do it all together, and we unload all the food, 50 pound bags of ‘new onions, lots and lots of them, big boxes of lettuce, lots of boxes of lettuce.
We pretty much toss whatever is left in the coolers overboard into the ocean, and all the guys just can’t believe we’re throwing all this great food overboard, and we bet a lot of sharks follow the ship, and can you imagine how much food an aircraft carrier would throw overboard. An aircraft carrier has a place in the back of the ship to dump garbage in the ocean, but only when you’re 50 miles or more out to sea, so it doesn’t run aground on shore, and so much is thrown into the ocean besides food. You can sit and smoke a cigarette, and just look at all the people who have trash to throw in the ocean, it’s kinda weird in a way, but you can’t let it pile up on the boat. .
I have to say that overall the food in the navy is good, maybe even excellent, I never thought it would be as beautiful and filling as it was, and a few days after leaving the navy, I swear their spaghetti is still the best I have ever had in my life!