Ice-cold cooking: Inside a ship’s galley

While patrolling the Arctic Ocean, Juniper’s crew has a continuous, sometimes spontaneous workload. Around-the-clock bridge and engine-room watches and ship upkeep make time illusive, stringing together night and day. The constant activity keeps Juniper’s four cooks – called food service specialists – particularly busy. Feeding the 50 people aboard is an on-going cycle of planning, preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning.

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Coast Guard Cutter Juniper's galley crew. Juniper is on an Arctic deployment to enhance interoperability with international forces and to provide the experience of working and responding to incidents in the Arctic environment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.
Coast Guard Cutter Juniper’s galley crew. Juniper is on an Arctic deployment to enhance interoperability with international forces and to provide the experience of working and responding to incidents in the Arctic environment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.

After a two-month voyage, the crew aboard Coast Guard Cutter Juniper is far away from home; they’re 2,300 miles northeast of homeport… at the top of the world.

Juniper – a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Newport, R.I. – is in the Arctic participating in Operation Nanook 2012. The operation aims to enhance the Coast Guard’s relationships, interoperability and experience with international forces working in the Arctic.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Chrissie Benzor, a crewmember aboard Coast Guard Cutter Juniper, prepares to braise meat while underway near the Hudson Strait in Canada. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Chrissie Benzor, a crewmember aboard Coast Guard Cutter Juniper, prepares to braise meat while underway near the Hudson Strait in Canada. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.

While patrolling the Arctic Ocean, Juniper’s crew has a continuous, sometimes spontaneous workload. Around-the-clock bridge and engine-room watches and ship upkeep make time illusive, stringing together night and day.

The constant activity keeps Juniper’s four cooks – called food service specialists – particularly busy. Feeding the 50 people aboard is an on-going cycle of planning, preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning. The work begins each day at 5 a.m. and does not stop until 2 a.m. the following morning. The galley, or the ship’s kitchen, is quiet for only three hours a day.

“By the end of this trip we will have made and served more than 3,300 meals and about 100 desserts. We will have prepared approximately 16,500 pounds of food,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Lyons, the food service officer, who has three third class petty officers and a mess cook, who is the dish washer, working for him in the galley.

Every breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight meal – called midrats, short for midnight rations served for shipmates on the night watch – means the crew is a little closer to the next mission, port call and ultimately seeing their families back home.

“I know that so many people look forward to mealtime, I love to cook because our meals contribute to the crew’s morale,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Chrissie Benzor, one of the crew cooks.

“This team is the single largest contributor to daily morale aboard. They take pride in their work and the crew here genuinely looks forward to the next meal,” said Lt. Frank Morrison, Juniper’s executive officer.

Because mealtime is so important to the crew, the cooks’ efforts are under constant critique. Fifty sets of taste buds and appetites offer compliment and complaint.

“The most challenging part of our job is trying to please so many different palates, especially since we are serving people from so many different places and backgrounds,” said Lyons.

Lyons said another big challenge during their deployment is keeping the food well stocked and coordinating deliveries. Two deep freezers hold most of the meat and bread needed for the trip, but produce and dairy need to be replenished.

“Our schedule is never set in stone; right now we are arranging to have food flown in and delivered by the crew of a Canadian Coast Guard ship, but I am not sure where or when yet,” said Lyons. “We have other considerations too; any produce we get from a country other than the United States or Canada has to be completely gone before the end of our trip. We can’t take produce from another country back home with us.”

Lyons is responsible for most of the food ordering, scheduling and paperwork, but he relies heavily on his three petty officers to prepare, cook and serve the food to the crew.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike Edwards, a crewmember aboard Coast Guard Cutter Juniper, serves the crew dinner. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike Edwards, a crewmember aboard Coast Guard Cutter Juniper, serves the crew dinner. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.

Benzor, and the two other cooks, Mike Edwards and Hunter Robinson, both third class petty officers, are always eager to try new recipes and accept helpful critique from the crew. All three crewmembers are constantly trying to learn and get better at what they do, striving for excellence. Benzor and Robinson both graduated from food service specialist advanced training this past June and look to Edwards, who has been aboard Juniper for more than a year, for guidance and leadership.

Edwards is the ship’s “Jack of the Dust,” which means in addition to cooking he has the added responsibility of helping Lyons with office paperwork and organization. He also recently attended and excelled in a five-week advanced culinary skills training course, a class normally attended by higher-ranking Coast Guard food service specialists.

“Edwards is so helpful; he is always there to try our food and give us ideas to make it better, but he walks us through it and teaches us step-by-step,” said Benzor.

Even at the end of each workday underway, when crewmembers not on watch are discussing movies and card games or working out in the gym, the cooks are in the galley cleaning up after dinner and prepping food for the following day.

Morrison said the remarkable thing about their overall products is simply that they refuse to take shortcuts; whenever possible the items served are as close to homemade as possible, and frozen items are used sparingly or don’t make the cut at all.

Robinson said despite the long hours and hard work, the four team members work well together, making their difficult job more enjoyable.

“We help each other out if we see someone is getting too worn out. Lyons and Edwards are both fun supervisors with great attitudes, they keep us going,” Robinson said.

Juniper’s four cooks show dedication that shows through their meals, and their all-day work ethic and positive attitudes are contagious aboard the ship. Each day underway for Operation Nanook 2012 begins in the ship’s galley with breakfast, setting the tone for the day ahead and leading the way for the crew.

Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Lyons, the food service officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Juniper, makes the crew homemade doughnuts while underway in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.
Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Lyons, the food service officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Juniper, makes the crew homemade doughnuts while underway in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.

24 comments on “Ice-cold cooking: Inside a ship’s galley”

  1. Thanks Fred for giving us a place to keep in touch with what is going on in the Guard .Since retiring 20 years ago, I have checked in almost every day after finding FRED’S PLACE to see whats happening. We will miss you but you need a change BZ Good luck and Fair winds

  2. I have enjoyed Freds place more then words can tell. until we meet again old friend. may the winds be fair and the seas be following .May the sun bless the stars that guide you .

  3. Fred Siegle… what a tremendous man! He and I served at Radioman School together in the 1960’s. The next time I saw him was at a reunion for the CG CW Operators Assn in Charleston, SC in 2001. Been a member of Fred’s place all along… such care & foresight he put into the site. Hang in there Fred… Love ya’! John Potts, LCDR, USCG(ret), Ex-RM1

  4. Dear Fred, so long. You were a great instructor at radioman school ( 12-65 ). You made it all worthwhile and CW fun. I was the ‘CW Ghost’ there at school. Sincerely, Jim Oss, ZUT 1281

  5. Thanks Fred for the many years since 1995. As one of the first 100 you have reunited me with many shipmates and friends. Who would have ever thunk? lol Thanks again. Enjoy retirement again and keep having fun!!
    Bill Driscoll BMC (ret)
    Pensacola FL

  6. If it weren’t for Fred (and Fred’s Place), a bunch of individuals playing bagpipes throughout the Coast Guard community might never have gotten together as a core group and formed the reknowned U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band, now well into its second decade. Fred, many thanks – you have our deepest appreciation for all your tireless work!

  7. Fred’s Place helped me find a lost shipmate- for which I am forever grateful!
    Thank you for being so inclusive! Will miss your touch but may the winds of life be smooth for you.

  8. Fred, years ago I found your Place – it was a great find – was able to track down folks from Cape Sarichef LORAN in Alaska.

    Then, several years later, I invited you to join me on Linked-In and the ‘US Coast Guard Network’ group – you tried it, but mentioned they ‘wanted too much information’ !!
    Sorry to see this come to an end, but maybe now you can join us – many of your members are also there – Everyone recognizes Fred’s Place!
    Thank you for your dedication, and, as a HAM, 73’s.

  9. Wow, can’t even think about it! Thanks Fred for many years of your additional service. Other services must have wished you retired from them! MIke M CPO (ret)

  10. Fred is one of the greatest morale boosters the the Coast Guard has ever had. This tribute may sound like a farewell, but if I know Fred, and I do after serving with him at CGRadsta Portsmouth, it ain’t over yet. Who knows where we may see Fred pop up! 73s Fred.
    CWO Ron Hudson (ret)

  11. Hey Fred!!
    You appear to have lost some weight from the real “old days”. When I first started playing with a computer you were there to help me along and keep me connected to other USCG “Types”. The first notice I put out for a reunion of Vet Nam folks that turned in to the Combat Veterans Associate was posted by you for me.
    You evolved your dream into mass media for our smallest you most elite service.
    Thanks old friend,
    Bill Hoover
    Sq1 Div 12 67-69
    Las Vegas, NV

  12. used to stand guard over the mid rats on ocean station delta aboard the CGC YAKUTAT gone but not forgotten. BM2AN1 ALLAN STARR

  13. Served aboard USCGC Red Oak & Redwood 1994-97 in Philly as the SS1/FS1. Cooks run the Guard! Thanks for a great story reflecting the hard work and dedication that the “stewburners” put in both U/W and inport! Semper Paratus shipmates!!

  14. Thanks Fred!
    Website was used by Station Saint Joseph, Mi for multiple reunions.
    I was a BM2 at St. Joe in the early 80’s , My son is a BM2 at Siuslaw River, Or station now. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!!!

  15. Thanks Fred for all you did to connect shipmates over the
    years. I know personally I connected
    with at least 15 old shipmates I had lost touch with. All the best to you and your wife.

  16. Thank you so much Fred. Because of your efforts I was able to connect with the family of a Coast Guard helicopter pilot that lost his life while serveing his country. I had been one of many of his crewmen and thought the world of him, just as we all did. After being in contact with this wonderful family, I now feel like they are part of mine.
    Thank you again for allowing us to reach out to each other.

  17. I had the honor and privilege of meeting Fred in March of 2003 at the graduation of TC Class 06-03, the last TC class ever before it became the OS rate. He had been working with our instructors to document the occasion. It’s always been very clear that Fred had a deep love of the USCG and it was obvious in his efforts with the website……which in my eyes will always be a USCG icon. Very sorry to see it go. What will all those poor souls do without the Mutual Board!? Haha.

  18. Thank you Fred. After 44 years, I reunited with best friend Paul Franklin. Then to the Spencer Assoc. and multitudes of others. Paul has crossed the bar, but you gave us those many addition special years we had. Bernie Carr.. served 1959-1963

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