Small crew’s versatility is key to operating Mayport’s littoral combat ships

This article was originally featured in the The Florida Times-Union on February 25, 2017 by Joe Daraskevich

Every day starts with breakfast. Chief Culinary Specialist Matthew Nordquest helps push out more than 50 of them to the sailors on the USS Detroit before he can move on to the next job.

Some days the next thing on his plate finds him guiding helicopters onto the flight deck. Sometimes, he’s out on the open water wearing a wetsuit for search-and-rescue training.

Trips back and forth to the galley are constant to make sure the rest of the crew is fed, but he usually can’t stay too long because there’s always something else to do.

Fortunately, they have a loose menu on the Detroit. It gives the crew a general idea of what they can expect to eat each night while training in the waters off Mayport Naval Station.

Tuesday is taco night, Wednesday is burgers, Friday is pizza and Sunday is usually prime rib, lobster or shrimp.

All the cooks do more than just prepare food. Sometimes when they’re busy, it means putting out cold cuts to satisfy the big appetites of hungry sailors.

“People have to eat. … If people don’t eat it’s going to be a bad day,” Nordquest said.

Like everyone else on the Navy’s littoral combat ships (LCS), cooks have to possess multiple skills to ensure the vessels function at optimal levels.

Nordquest is one of four cooks on the Detroit, but that’s just the start of his job description.

He’s been in the LCS program for six years, and in that time he’s been trained to do just about every job on the ship outside of the advanced weapons systems.

Read the full story here.