USS LA SALLE (AGF 3) - (NENS) -- As many as 820 people will embark aboard the Sixth Fleet command ship, USS La Salle, during Matador 96, a combined joint task force exercise now being conducted between U.S. and Spanish military forces off the eastern coast of Spain. The command ship is accommodating the 28 percent increase in personnel by opening 'Cafe La Salle,' a unique solution to providing extra food and lodging requirements.
Cafe La Salle is actually a converted shipyard barge secured to La Salle's well deck. The barge holds 36 officer state rooms and a joint operations center, which provides computer terminals and work space for the embarked staff.
"I can't remember when La Salle has ever had so many people aboard," said Supply Officer, CDR Herman Jorgensen. "It's the first actual joint task force we've embarked aboard, but we've got a pretty good system to take care of them."
There is also a dining facility located on top of the barge -- complete with cafe tables with red and white checkered tablecloths.
According to PC3 Wanda North, who is helping out at Cafe La Salle during the exercise, the buffet-style eating area works well with the busy exercise schedule of the barge residents.
"We lay out breakfast sandwiches, fruit, cereal, juice and coffee for about 50 to 60 people at five o'clock every morning," she said. "Then we serve finger food for lunch. They can just grab what they want, take a seat at one of our cafe tables, and then go right to their next meeting."
CDR Jorgensen said the cafe idea was originally a one-time answer to the food-service dilemma caused when a large number of NATO officers embarked for two days last summer. But when plans for Matador 96 included the embarkation of a combined joint task force, the cafe idea was dusted off and opened for business once again.
Matador 96 is the first combined joint task force afloat exercise conducted in the European theater. Approximately 11,000 U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are participating in this exercise, alongside Spanish counterparts.
The exercise continues until May 24.
Naveur News Service (96-20), dated May 16, 1996.
Return to Military Food Service