By Lt. j.g. John Dodd
USS Vicksburg (CG 69) is a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser going through the cruiser modernization program. Vicksburg is named after the Civil War Battle of Vicksburg and the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Her keel was laid down May 30, 1990, and she was launched on Sept. 7, 1991. She was commissioned Nov. 14, 1992. Vicksburg is currently undergoing maintenance overhaul in BAE Shipyard, Norfolk, Virginia.
The cruiser modernization program aims to improve the Vicksburg by modernizing the computing and display infrastructure, hull, mechanical and electrical, weapons and sensors, making it the most lethal and advanced cruiser in the Navy. Essential to its mission is the supply department that embodies our ship’s motto, “Key to Victory,” with every meal they serve.
Supply enables our ship to fight and win wars, and the hungry Sailors of the Vicksburg have been waiting at the edge of their seats looking forward to some Navy chow. For four years, the Vicksburg has been without a galley when the ship was put into lay-up with a skele - ton crew of 31 Sailors. The crew started working in one double wide trailer on the pier, and eventually grew to four double wide trailers. Sailors had to go to the shipyard cafeteria, food trucks, or into town to eat.
In the past year, the Vicksburg crew has grown from the original skeleton crew to a crew size of 250 Sailors. The ramp up in manning created the requirement for a bigger home and subsistence. Recently, the Vicksburg team received a barge and moved into their new temporary home.
Lt. James Ball, supply officer on the Vicksburg, and his team of culinary specialists and enlisted food service attendants have made the Vicksburg crew feel at home with one extraordinary event on Nov. 4, 2019, – the opening of the Victory Bistro, a name voted on by S-2 division.
The Vicksburg aims to transform the way galleys operate in the Navy, raising the standard through quality food and service to the crew. The expertise and innovation of the supply department and the return of the legendary “Vicksburger” are vital elements in returning Vicksburg to the fight. Having an established food service operation was a major milestone in bringing Vicksburg back to life.
The opening of Victory Bistro is a monumental step toward returning the Vicksburg to a battle-ready ship that will defend freedom and democracy around the world.