BY CSCS (SW/AW) DONALD LAKE
NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEM COMMAND
The operational and support role of the Leading Culinary Specialist (Leading CS) is crucial to the assistance and support of the warfighter and the mission of any crew. Their primary role aligns with the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Commander’s vision statement, “To be the Navy’s trusted provider of supplies, services, and quality-of-life support.”
The Leading CS is a strong source of morale for the crew. Leading and mentoring junior CSs help ensure this tradition continues. This can only be executed to its full potential through effectively mentoring and guiding junior CSs, and instilling a sense of importance, pride and value in them every day. That same manner of investment and value must permeate the chain of command, as well. Our collective contributions better equip supply leadership in their supporting roles to their commanding officers.
With many challenges facing our nation, the Navy’s operational tempo has increased and the role of the Leading CS and those who work for him or her has broadened tremendously beyond preparing four highly nutritious meals daily to feed the crew. It is not unusual to walk aboard a guided missile destroyer and find a CS standing the ship’s quarterdeck watch as officer of the deck (OOD) or petty officer of the watch (POOW). The job doesn’t stop there because once the POOW states, “Secure the mess line” over the 1MC, the role that that CS performs as a duty section member ramps back up once more. The same individual may then be required to muster with the duty section leader and could be the duty section leader for training, force protection, and in-port emergency team drills. You might also see a CS armed with an M16 rifle as the topside rover.
Shortly after a CS is relieved from various shipboard watches, it is easy to find that same individual working in the galley assisting their fellow CSs with preparing and serving meals for the crew, performing inventories in the bulk storerooms, or working on the records. In fact, this practice of multi-tasking is now the norm, especially if the galley watch team and/or food service division is undermanned.
It used to be voluntary for CSs to stand or to qualify in becoming more competitive among their peers. Today, it is a baseline requirement to support the chain of command and the operational requirements, while ensuring that S-2/food service division is supporting the ships’ requirements. To meet this mission, a CS can be the galley watch captain, as well as the team leader for Repair Locker Three during general quarters/main space fire and flooding. In fact, surface combatant CSs are now required to achieve these qualifications and remain qualified at all times, like their peers serving on submarines.
Times have changed, and our ships are not always fully manned. Everyone is expected to do more with less. Collateral duties and watches that were not previously unavailable to CSs are being offered. For example, Force Protection Security Reaction Force (SRF) – response teams, as well as engineering sounding and security roving watches, are watches offered to CSs on today’s submarine and amphibious ships. A few CSs have also gone above and beyond to qualify in shipboard deck watches such as lee helmsman and master helmsman, which are vital, watch-standing positions during underway evolutions.
In order to support the warfighter, CSs are expected to be well-rounded in all shipboard duties. Today’s galley-watch captain can also be the team lead for Repair Locker Five at sea, as well as instrumental to damage control efforts during in port operations. The expanded support role and mission functions our CSs now conduct in the Navy provide support in all areas, in addition to serving high quality meals to our warfighters. Our primary CS support role to the warfighter has not, and will never, go by the wayside. CSs will forever be at the ready. One should never forget how important this provided service is in the fight!