Trident Refit Facility (TRF) Kings Bay, Ga., performs many mission areas that seem to run in the background.
The Provisions Branch, Code 521P, accomplishes one such function. From distance support via the Records Ashore Initiative and Marine Mammal support to facilitating food module on-loads, CSC(SS) David Grodt and his team of professionals play a vital role in making sure our boats go to sea fully provisioned and prepared to fulfill their mission.
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TRF Team Chow! From left to right; Ernestine Pitchford, CSC(SS) David Grodt, LS2(SS) James Bush, CS1(SS) Ryan Austin and EM1(SW) Roderick Gordon. (Photo by W.T. Door)
Ensuring our submarine crews are well fed and fully stocked is the core function of the folks in the Provisions Branch of Supply Department’s Logistics Support Branch at TRF. Their primary duties include receiving all food deliveries on behalf of the submarines, warehousing, delivery, and records keeping for home-ported Trident Submarines.
They’re also standing by to assist when the opportunity arises to “top off” the subs. When a black hull pops up briefly to transfer personnel or bring on critical repair parts, the provisions warehouse has ready- made “provision packs” on standby, which consist of fresh vegetables, baked goods, and dairy items. Periodic infusions of hard pack ice cream are a little known vital component of our victory during the cold war.
Each submarine typically departs on patrol with several hundred thousand dollars worth of provisions aboard, and without the Provisions Branch, each submarine Supply Officer (CHOP) would have to coordinate and manage the requisitioning, receiving, stocking, loading and accounting for those food stuffs. The Provisions Branch removes that burden, and allows shipboard personnel to concentrate on the day-to-day operation of the ship’s galley. The cooks are thus able to hone their skills as Culinary Specialists, and thereby make a direct, positive impact on their crews’ morale.
“Records Ashore,” developed as part of a distance support initiative that began about six years ago, has recently undergone a complete overhaul. In the past, all of our units’ records were lumped into two groups, Blue and Gold. These two groups have been split out into their boat’s respective UIC’s, enabling the Chops to gain insight into their individual operation and gain valuable experience in managing a general mess.
While CSC Grodt is at the helm, Ernestine Pitchford is the glue that holds it all together. A 30-year civil service veteran, “Miss E” goes above and beyond each and every day to support our Sailors, guaranteeing their success by expertly coordinating the requisitioning and delivery of thousands of items each week.
CS1 Ryan Austin, EM1 Roderick Gordon and LS2 James Bush are the lifeblood on which the operation thrives, and the foundational role they play is crucial to the achievement of our goal … to send our submarines to sea in the highest possible condition of readiness.
Submariners “set their clocks” around mealtimes, and if the chow is bad, the crew’s moral plummets, which makes for a very long patrol. The Provisions Branch team will continue its untiring efforts, working behind the scenes to help shorten patrols and to guarantee our boats are properly provisioned, and always Ready for Sea!
By Lt. Shawn Willis, SC, USN; ROVSS and Provisions Officer, Trident Refit Facility, Kings Bay, Ga.