PACIFIC OCEAN – Summer sunshine, festive music and wisps of charcoal-fragranced smoke washed over the 4 ½ acres of USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) flight deck as Sailors participated in a steel beach picnic, July 27.
The eight-hour celebration, coordinated by John C. Stennis’ food service division and Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, featured an array of grilled entrees, chilled salads, chips, baked beans, cold beverages, assorted desserts, snow cones and cotton candy, accompanied by live music provided by crew members, a dance contest, basketball arcade, and games including Frisbee and corn hole.
“I think this event is really good at bringing up everyone’s morale and bringing us all together so we can just have fun after so many months of deployment,” said Fire Controlman 2nd Class Kristy Sizemore, from Columbus, Ohio. “The food is really good, and I just really like the atmosphere. It is a celebration for all that has been accomplished this deployment and that RIMPAC has been a success.”
Sizemore volunteered her time at the picnic as a member of the Second Class Petty Officers Association. Alongside the culinary specialists and food service assistants from John C. Stennis’ S-2 division, more than 100 Sailors from the Chiefs Mess, Mustang Association, First Class Petty Officer Association, Second Class Petty Officer Association and the Junior Enlisted Association volunteered to set up tables and equipment, grill entrees, serve food and beverages, facilitate recreational activities, and clean-up.
“I’ve been below decks for days now and for me to come out here, it has been fantastic,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Justine Rolava, from Grobina, Latvia. “Everyone has been so helpful and nice, it has been the best thing that has happened for me recently and just what I needed.”
Over the course of lunch and dinner, the crew of nearly 5,000 consumed food and beverages in volumes proportionate to a United States aircraft carrier.
After Chief Warrant Officer Robert Compton, John C. Stennis’ food service officer, tallied up the numbers, John C. Stennis Sailors consumed 2,240 pounds of chicken, 1,980 pounds of ribs, 1,440 pounds of hamburgers, 50 pounds of veggie burgers, 280 pounds of sausage, 490 pounds of hot dogs and approximately 9,950 bottles of water, soda and sports drinks.
John C. Stennis is currently participating in the Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea-lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971.
Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, John C. Stennis is on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific Deployment.