Life as a Submarine Cook
By: Noor Zahidah Abdul Latiff
Life on a submarine as a cook is far beyond exhausting. The submarine cook must have the ability to maintain a decent meal 4 times a day (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Midnight Rations, or MidRats). With a crew of about 130, a submarine cook must work all hours in a hot, cramped kitchen for up to nine months. It is essential to provide a diet high in vitamin C and nutrients when away for long periods. The cooks are the heart and soul of a submarine – a bad cook can destroy morale onboard within a very short period, especially if the submarine is involved in any particularly stressful situation. A cook must be able to be creative in preparing a meal and maintain proper nutrition and health for the crew. All ships and submarines have an ice-cream machine to maintain necessary vitamin D levels in the crew while submerged, as fresh milk is used within the first week or two, along with fruits and vegetables. Powdered milk is pretty bad, and most crew won’t drink it, so soft serve ice-cream is used as the primary dairy source. Every day is a busy day - there are meals to be prepared, dishes, pots, & utensils to be cleaned, trash to be compacted and disposed of through a tube that goes to the bottom of the boat. In port, supplies must be ordered, obtained, unpacked and stored, and all space is at premium. When a boat is getting ready for a long period of time at sea, a "Stores Load" working party consisting of all hands will move by a daisy chain, all food items from the pier to the cooks and supply guys. Initially, there is usually more food than there is space to put it, so the crew actually has to "eat" their way through to get the space back over time. Certain "premium items", like Cashews or Hot Chocolate packs intended for the Wardroom, can mysteriously disappear during a Stores Load. In a storeroom, the large stockpiles of food include 250 tins of baked beans and 450 packets of sausages. On a lengthy...
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