Feeding the fleet

30 May 2024

How many eggs does it take to feed a floating village? 

About 5000 are fried, boiled, scrambled and gobbled up by HMAS Adelaide’s 500-or-so crew every week. 

Add to that more than 200kg of rice, 800L of milk and almost 200kg of flour to bake fresh bread rolls daily, and that’s just scratching the surface of Navy’s biggest ship’s weekly shop. 

Even more impressive than the size of the grocery list is the team who manage it. 

Maritime logistics chefs work all hours of the day and night to put food on the table for sailors and officers at sea. 

From vegans to pescatarians, those with a voracious appetite or picky eaters, Adelaide chefs make sure there’s something for everyone when meal service starts in the galley. 

Maritime Logistics Chef Able Seaman Thomas Skurray explained how the chefs serve up different and interesting meals. 

“We will have four different protein options, meat, vegetarian, sometimes fish or seafood as well, so there’s always a good variety,” Able Seaman Skurray said. 

“One option is generally quite lean and healthy, like a salmon or grilled chicken breast, and then there’ll be an option that’s more exciting, like ribs.” 

No surprises for guessing what goes first. 

Able Seaman Skurray said food usually found at the local is always a favourite. 

“Chicken schnitty or parmis and those types of things you wouldn’t usually cook at home are popular,” he said.

“Then there’ll be those people working on their fitness goals and going for a leaner option.” 

Night chefs are responsible for baking bread, cooking breakfast and serving a midnight meal for watchkeepers, who work shifts so the ship can operate around the clock. 

When not working nights, Able Seaman Skurray and team start soon after breakfast service begins at 6.15am.

The morning crew help the night chefs finish breakfast service before starting lunch and dinner prep for the following day and serving meals. 

Working with a six-week menu cycle, the crew carry about two weeks’ perishable ingredients in giant refrigerators in the ship’s bowels. 

Meats are defrosted four days in advance and gradually brought to room temperature before cooking. 

It’s a lot of work, but the look on some of the crew’s faces can be rewarding enough. 

“It's cool to see people's faces light up when you've cooked a really great meal – if you've made spaghetti bolognese that just vaguely reminds them of home,” Able Seaman Skurray said. 

“Everyone looks forward to eating and you can definitely notice when a meal was really good.” 



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