U.S. Navy prepares Thanksgiving dinner for sailors on duty

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — More than 73,000 sailors will be away from home this Thanksgiving, at sea, or serving on bases abroad.

The U.S. Navy is working to make sure sailors will celebrate the holiday with a proper Thanksgiving dinner.

10 On Your Side’s Erin Kelly went aboard the USS George H.W. Bush Wednesday morning to see what goes in to preparing for the meal on a much larger scale — and what that dinner means for sailors.

Petty Officer Dante Lofton, a culinary specialist aboard the USS Bush, said crews start early to prepare turkey, ham, green bean casserole, corn, mashed potatoes, and homemade gravy for everyone aboard.

Around 500 sailors will be on duty aboard the USS Bush at Naval Station Norfolk Thursday.

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of timing,” Lofton said of the cooking preparations. “We have to start early, then as it goes along, we have to make sure that everything is going fine with it.”

Several locally based ships, including the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS San Antonio, USNS Nitze and USNS Patuxent, are deployed this Thanksgiving, the Navy said.

Sailors aboard the USS Eisenhower will have nearly 5,000 pounds of turkey, more than 1,000 pounds of ham and beef, nearly 700 pounds of shrimp cocktail, 7,000 portions of mashed potatoes, 400 pies, and 200 cheesecakes, according to the Navy.

Petty Officer Larry Nelson, who is assigned to the USS Bush, has also been deployed during the holidays.

“The ship really takes care of us while we’re out. It’s kind of just like being at home,” Nelson says. “I mean, of course you miss your family, but the ship does a great job of pretty much being family for you during the holidays.”

“You’ve got to take care of the crew. You’ve got to make sure that the morale is high, and so they’re cooking a lot of turkey, a lot of stuffing, a lot of pumpkin pies. We’re going to make it as close to home for those sailors. They deserve it,” said Cmdr. Dave Hecht.

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