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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: February 12, 2007
No: 07-05

Combat Feeding dishes out shipboard improvements

Scullery of the U.S.S. Bataan Rob DiLalla, center, helps out in the scullery of the U.S.S. Bataan. (Photo courtesy of Combat Feeding Directorate.)
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NATICK, Mass. -- There's no substitute for getting your own hands dirty was the sentiment when three members of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center's (NSRDEC) Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD) had the opportunity to live the life of a Sailor Nov. 28-30, 2006 aboard the U.S.S. Bataan, which sailed from Norfolk, Va.

Rob DiLalla, mechanical engineer, said the experience was a "real eye opener."

"The Sailors work around the clock," he said. "They eat, sleep and work. A lot of the jobs they do are labor-intensive."

The purpose of the visit was to observe food service operations while the ship was at sea.

As part of the time spent on board, DiLalla and Robert Bernazzani, team leader of the Systems Equipment and Engineering Team, worked in the scullery, which is the ship's dish room.

"As part of cleaning the dishes, various items would need to be separated out," said Bernazzani. "Items you wouldn't even think about. Food waste would be separated out, but then if you had an individual serving item that perhaps had a foil liner or cover, that would also need to be sorted into its own category."

The conditions in the scullery are hot and steamy, DiLalla said, and it gets pretty hectic during peak dining times.

"There's an overwhelming amount of work to be done," he said.

Bernazzani, DiLalla, and Louis Jamieson, equipment specialist, have been working on a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) project for Program Executive Office (PEO) Carriers for an automated shipboard dishwashing system. The SBIR will address automating areas such as scrapping, sorting, soaking, washing, drying and stowage.

This gave us a better appreciation for the requirements, said DiLalla.

"It confirmed that we are going in the right direction with the SBIR," said Bernazzani. "It also opened our eyes to other ideas to make the design complete."

Acting as the end user, we know what to look for in the design, Jamieson said. "We can put a better product forward."

While participating in this program, the team also had a chance to work as liaisons between ship personnel and food service equipment contractors to get equipment problems corrected before deployment.

Ships usually go out for a six-month deployment, Jamieson said, so the fixes were considered a benefit by the crew.

To get a better understanding of the life of a Sailor and how the ship operates, Bernazzani, DiLalla and Jamieson all participated in a Navy 'Bluing' initiative. During the Bluing, the team observed operations and received briefings regarding all areas of the ship.

The U.S.S. Bataan is the second largest class of ship (LHD) and with just Navy personnel on board the crew size is 1,600 personnel, but when it has a complete Marine contingent on board the crew size increases to approximately 3,200 personnel.

"This was an outstanding opportunity to see the different departments on the ship," said Jamieson. Some of the areas the team got to see included the engine room, the bridge and navigation systems, the flight deck, landing craft operations, and combat systems.

This was the first time members from CFD were able to participate in a program such as this. Jamieson said it was a unique opportunity.

"It gives us a better idea of where the customer is coming from," said DiLalla.

"We'd like to continue to do it in the future," Bernazzani said. "Hopefully we could be able to do it on other classes of ships and in other areas. Areas such as the bakery and galley."

After the experience, the team met with Capt. David C. Hulse, the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Bataan, and he said he appreciated the team coming on board to get the first-hand experience and user feedback.

Jamieson said that he hopes programs like this will generate ideas that in the future will make life easier for the Sailor.

This page last updated on 10 May 2006.