Catering at sea for several weeks during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 required careful logistical planning.
CAPTION: Maritime Logistics Officer Sub-Lieutenant Amelia Ross holds an assortment of coffee products in the dry store of HMAS Canberra during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 in the Pacific Ocean. Story by Lieutenant Nancy Cotton. Photo by Leading Seaman Matthew Lyall.
Sub-Lieutenant Assistant Maritime Logistics Officer Amelia Ross works on board HMAS Canberra, where catering supplies are her domain.
Sub-Lieutenant Ross said they had to plan for endurance, tonnes of food for several hundreds of people and planning for the resupply, getting fresh items again at the next port visit.
“Fresh green salads get eaten quickly as they perish faster, so salads are usually not on the menu after a few weeks at sea, but we’ll have plenty of vegetables and other salad items to ensure a healthy balanced diet,” she said.
“We make sure we source the really unripened fruits when we sail so they slowly ripen and people can still enjoy bananas and mangos weeks into a deployment.”
It isn’t just catering for the ship’s company the maritime logistics officers (MLO) plan for, they also have the responsibility for events, such as the RIMPAC National Reception.
Canberra hosted the reception on board during the shore phase of RIMPAC with close to 1000 guests enjoying Australian delights.
The kangaroo sliders, crocodile skewers, tempura king prawns, Australian fine wine and Aussie craft beers were a huge success, but behind the scenes organising an event for that many guests was a massive task, tackled by multiple divisions from within the ship.
Sub-Lieutenant Ross joined Navy in 2018 having graduated from the Australia Defence Force Academy with a Business Degree and said she puts the success of her team down to the six amazing women she works with.
“There are eight ML officers, the division head, the head of department, two deputies and then the four assistant MLOs and we look after a large team of talented sailors and soldiers from chefs, storbies and stewards who all have their own little worlds on board to run.
“Between the four assistants we oversee the catering, finance, stores and the canteen.”
A task the MLOs had when they pulled back into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the ship’s second port visit was sourcing more coffee.
A ship the size of Canberra consumes a vast amount, but when it comes to coffee it seems you can never have enough, grinding through 185kg of coffee beans a week for the ship’s multiple espresso machines.
However, it was not just coffee that kept the crew happy, they got through 40 litres of ice cream a night.