Feeding Sailors in Combat Environments–Interoperability with Allied Navies


“WE ARE OUT OF FOOD SKIPPER!” – These are NOT the words any ship captain wants to hear, especially during a combat operation.

But don’t panic. Alternatives to acquire food are available if you find yourself in a pinch. Procurement on the local economy always remains an option. However, ship supply officers can now leverage some of our allied partners as well. Keep in mind we still have to follow some rules!

Tri-service regulations (NAVSUP 4355.4H, Veterinary/Medical Food Safety, Quality Assurance, and Laboratory Service) permit afloat U.S. Naval forces to purchase food from unapproved foreign origin sources during emergencies. The quantities procured are limited to the immediate requirements to alleviate the emergency.

The key word is unapproved. What does that mean? An approved source is a food producing establishment that has been sanitarily inspected by a Department of Defense (DoD) medical authority and placed on the Worldwide Directory maintained by the U.S. Army Public Health Center (PHC). Purchasing activities of the Armed Forces must buy foods that are listed in the Worldwide Directory. However, during times of emergency, this requirement can be temporarily ignored so that our Sailors can get food from unapproved foreign flagged vessels. Of course, our ship-board medical authorities will be called upon to inspect these emergency rations for wholesomeness and safety.

What about non-emergency periods such as training exercises? Purchasing food from foreign vessels can still be accomplished; however, food must come from approved sources. For example, NAVSUP recently identified several Australian-approved sources that can be used to supply our Sailors (through the Australian Navy). In fact, there is a process to add new food establishments to the Worldwide Directory. Once a DoD procurement official identifies a potential establishment, the PHC will engage to perform the necessary sanitary audit required for approval. Granted, not all companies will pass the inspection process, so the PHC will work with the company to ensure compliance or will not approve that company.

Certain food commodities are “exempt” from the DoD approved source process and hence, Worldwide Directory listing. This exemption criteria is based on food science principles and geographic regions that make some foods less risky to consume. An example of food that is exempt is whole, unprocessed watermelons. Our Sailors may eat watermelons from foreign navies without the requirement of coming from an approved source since it is exempt.

Our fleets are preparing to purchase food from other allied navies throughout the world during both times of emergency and training exercises. To name a few, the Australian Navy, the Japanese Navy, and the United Kingdom Royal Navy will be initial partners to evaluate the procurement process of foreign food items along with paying our allies for their wares.

Such operations require the United States to reimburse our allies. The Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) will be used to facilitate reciprocal logistics support between the U.S. Armed Forces and military forces of authorized countries. To begin this process, afloat units must have funds committed by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS) to generate a food order in the Food Service Management (FSM) system using a DD Form 1149. The afloat unit also prepares a mutual logistics support order (MLSO) that is submitted to an ACSA Manager (authorized requesting officer) for approval. Once food has been receipted and proper signatures obtained on the MLSO, the ACSA Manager will prepare a public voucher for Purchases and Service Other Than Personal (SF1034) with the required international banking information. Finally, a completed package is submitted to BUPERS to prepare and submit to Defense Finance and Accounting Service for payment to the Allied Navy.

There is a legal way to obtain safe, wholesome food from foreign ships during non-emergency times. There are two basic rules to follow: Ensure that food items come from DoD approved sources and that our allies are reimbursed for the transaction.

July/August 2017