Pittsburgh (SSN 720) is silent and stealthy
but unbelievably cramped. Youve got sailors
sleeping on top of one another on shelves, er,
bunks, eating in shifts or turning sideways to
walk past one another in passageways. As cramped
as a submarine seems, close quarters is an art
form when you enter the galley.
functional -- totally stainless steel. And
Really crowded with about ten sailors, where
three might be, in constant motion, squeezing
past one another into the walk-in freezer, near
the shelf where the chocolate cream pies are
setting, towards the grill, where part of the
fifty five pounds of tenderloin is grilling,
brushing the oven with the sweet rolls rising and
past the stove where the Franconia potatoes and
the niblet corn are just about ready to be
Supply specialists are reconciling end of
quarter balances at tables in the mess, but all
crew members know lunch is just minutes away.
What many may not know is part of
todays galley crew are three soon-to-be
submarine sailors wholl be working for
their Dolphins on a trio of submarines in
MSSA David Murrell, USS Henry M. Jackson, MSSN
Kinte Grant, USS Maine, and MSSA Gilbert Gurule,
USS Houston, have worked all week with Submarine
Schools MSC (SS) George Krisanda, supply
training division officer and lead Instructor,
mess management specialist training, knowing this
lunch was looming.
As he points out, the working in the Pittsburghs
galley is the fun part of the course.
"The course is Submarine Food
Service Watchstander, and lasts a week.
Its a refresher for mess management
specialist students that have just completed
BESS. It picks up where the MS "A"
school left off to refine the training in a
There are subtle and specific differences for
the submarine community. Sanitation training is
more in depth due to differences in storage
capability, and the basic daily food allowance
per person is higher because submarines are
forced to carry dehydrated products (which are
Safety and firefighting is crucial at any
command, but reaction time on board a submarine
needs to be immediate. Watchstander duties extend
beyond the galley for submarine cooks. As
galley watch captain they need to
understand that the galley, pantry, wardroom,
mess decks, and trash disposal area are all
within their jurisdiction as well as the
responsibility of the people that work for them.
Submarine qualifications and numerous collateral
(out of rate) duties are also covered as part of
As Krisanda knows from his own career, food is
important to a submarine crew.
"Food is probably the number
one morale factor on board the ship at sea (in
port would be liberty!). The crew looks forward
to a good meal when they get up or get off watch,
so the MS's play an important role in their lives
at this point. A positive attitude is a necessary
attribute for cooks as well as a tough skin --
after all you can't please everyone all the
For Grant, cooking lunch for eighty eight
close friends is positively why he chose the mess
management specialist rating.
"Ive always heard the Navy has the
best chow of any of the services-and when you
talk to anyone, they always talk about how
submarines are the best in the Navy. So for me,
striving to be my best, the choices were
With floor space in tight supply in the
galley, and lots of sailors struggling to finish
food preparations and serve almost a hundred
meals, the atmosphere feels a bit like a final
exam-but Krisanda sees it differently.
"Most of these students have never even
stepped on board an actual boat
before, and it gives them something to look
forward to. It's alright to sit in a classroom
and describe something, and maybe a movie can
give you some insight, but nothing beats the
"hands on" experience.
By working with the cooks on the ship, they
get to ask their peers what it's really like at
sea. I can still remember when I was in
"A" school, I volunteered for submarine
duty. The first time I saw a petty officer first
class wearing dolphins, I had a million questions
Besides, most of the other technical rates
have some kind of lab or simulator, I think
weve got the best (Grins)."
Gurule and Murrell have finished grilling
tenderloins and preparing the salad. As they
huddle with the Pittsburghs MS1
(SS/AW) Eric Cheairs and pepper him with
just one more question, they reflect
that they are doing exactly what they want to be
doing-and so far, it smells delicious.
Gurule notes that "(I)ve always
loved to cook-maybe for not this many at one
time, but life is supposed to be
challenging." And Murrell adds, "I
decided a couple of years that Id like to
have my own restaurant and catering business.
This experience will give me the background to
make better decisions for however long Im
in the Navy and in the years beyond."
Their attitudes remind Krisanda of another
sailor way back when.
"I was a cook when I came in, then I
volunteered for submarines in "A"
school. Most of my students have had some cooking
experience and want to redefine it for a career
at the end of the first tour.
For some, being an MS on a submarine
is a stepping stone to earn money for college or
its just something they always wanted to
As for todays meal, which the crew
quickly and appreciatively wolfs down, and the
lab that helped produce it, Krisanda
has nothing but compliments.
"OJT works better for everyone. By
bringing the students in and pointing out job
functions and preventing mistakes as they happen,
they become better cooks from the onset. Some of
the questions they may have had up to now were
answered this morning. They really do look
forward to it.
Even though the course is only a week, most of
the critique sheets we receive say they wish the
time spent on board the ship, was
longer. When you work with such a positive and
caring team like we had on the Pittsburgh, you
can't help but send the students to their next
command with a can do attitude."
From the Naval Submarine School's news
web site. Story is dated November 1998.