BY PETTY OFFICER 2nd CLASS TRAVIS DIPERNA MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST USS KEARSARGE (LHD 3)
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NORFOLK (April 2, 2015) NEXCOM CEO Robert Bianchi and Rear Admiral John Polowczyk and Captain David L. Bossert, commanding officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) cut a ribbon at ceremony celebrating the reopening of the ship's store. Kearsarge, the flagship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4 and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is underway for PHIBRON-MEU Integrated Training (PMINT) in preparation for a future deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Travis Diperna/Released)
The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) re-opened the doors of its newly renovated ship store during a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 2.
Rear Adm. John P. Polowczyk, director, Fleet Ordnance and Supply, Fleet Supply Officer, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and Robert J. Bianchi, chief executive officer, Navy Exchange Service Command were in attendance along with the ship’s serviceman division for the ceremony. Construction on the store started in January and concluded at the end of March.
“With the planning, funding, various approvals, and USS Kearsarge’s complex schedule,” said Cmdr. Babak Barakat, USS Kearsarge’s supply officer, “that made it quite a long journey to get here.”
The renovations were focused on making the ship’s store feel more inviting and appealing to the ship’s crew.
“The renovations will give the crew a ship’s store that they can identify with,” said Barakat, “It creates a more spacious and ‘warmer’ feel to it.”
Not all of the changes are simply cosmetic; the layout of the store was designed to make the most out of the space that is provided as well as providing more organization to accommodate more merchandise for Sailors and Marines.
“I like the layout of the ship’s store now better than before,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate First Class Anthony Good. “There are more selections to choose from in terms or merchandise, which is great! The counter tops and display cases show off the patches and coins more, it makes me want to buy them when I come in the store.”
Many of the changes can be felt by the Sailors who spend hours a day in the store, not buying items, but stocking them for others.
“The store looks great,” said Ship’s Serviceman Second Class Elaine Donkor. “The new spacious layout truly makes stocking the shelves so much easier and faster, and the emblematic aisle is one of my favorite parts.”
“The remodeling of the store has boosted crew morale around the ship,” said Ship’s Serviceman First Class Elizabeth Hunter. “The crew seems to be very excited about checking out what’s going on inside. My favorite part is seeing the excitement in our customers faces when they enter and the pride that our Ship’s Servicemen have serving them.”
For crews that spend up to nine months deployed, an updated store can mean all of the difference to morale. Another new feature to the store is the ‘Heritage Wall’, a tribute to the USS K earsarge and the three ship’s before her that share her namesake.
Barakat added that his favorite addition is the new Heritage Wall, to him it’s the most important feature, too.
“It shows the soul, character and proud naval service of all the ships named USS Kearsarge,” said Barakat. “It will also provide the crew with a proud reminder that our ship and the three before were all capital ships of the line.”