HMS Vengeance catering team recognised

It’s not just an army that marches on its stomach – Royal Navy submariners patrol on their stomachs too and that’s why HMS Vengeance (Port)’s Catering Services team have picked-up an award for their exemplary work.

For every hour of every day, non-stop for the past 50 years, a deterrent submarine has been patrolling somewhere in the earth’s oceans.

Able to create its own power, oxygen and water, about the only thing limiting the length of a deployment is the need to feed. 

And, to put it into perspective, that’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, for some 140 people for months at a time.  That’s a lot of snacks!

On patrol basic things become very important and the quality of the food is a fundamental part of maintaining morale.

Warrant Officer 1 Michael Ellison

The crew can’t just pop down the shops for a loaf, so enter the Catering Services team from HMS Vengeance (Port). 

The small, eight-person team are experts in supplying the Royal Navy Submarine Service, pulling-out all the stops to make sure their Vanguard class submarine can keep submerged and patrolling.

On Wednesday, April 3, the Catering Services teams’ contribution was formally recognised when they were presented with the Fleet Catering Award for 2018-19.

“The Catering Services team of HMS Vengeance (Port) are more than worthy recipients of the Fleet Catering Award for 2019,” said Commander Douggie Ward MBE, Commander Logistics for the Submarine Flotilla.

“They face catering challenges unknown by their General Service counterparts in having to produce balanced, interesting and healthy meals long after the fresh produce has run out; there is simply no option of a replenishment at sea or a top-up on a port visit for this team.”

Crewmembers on board a Vanguard class submarine look forward to mealtimes.  As well as being responsible for keeping hunger at bay, submariner chefs also help to maintain high-morale and wellbeing.

But the Royal Navy chefs can’t cook-up a storm unless they have the ingredients to work with.  Supplying and storing the food is a major challenge and one that the Catering Services team have got down to a fine art.

“Food is massively important on board,” said Warrant Officer 1 Michael Ellison, a Logistics officer with the Submarine Flotilla’s Catering Services Waterfront Support team. 

“On patrol basic things become very important and the quality of the food is a fundamental part of maintaining morale.  The chefs on board will prepare a meal every six-hours.

“It takes around three-days to store a submarine with fresh, frozen and dry goods, and the way we get supplies on board hasn’t really changed from Nelson’s day.  It’s a whole crew commitment and everyone gets involved in a human chain running from the dockside to inside the boat.”

He continued: “There are freezers and fridges on board of course, but every bit of available space on a submarine is used. 

“We must plan carefully because you don’t want fresh food stored in a hard-to-reach place at the back where it will go bad.

“Submariners are creatures of routine and so they expect curry on Wednesdays, fish and chips on Friday, and a roast on Sunday. 

“There would be some really unhappy submariners if they didn’t have Cheesy Hammy Eggy!”

A Royal Navy staple – Cheesy Hammy Eggy consists of cheese toast with a slice of ham and an egg on top and is more delicious than it sounds!

The Fleet Catering Award is awarded annually to the most outstanding Catering Services Department in the Royal Navy.

The Submarine Service has held the award for two years in a row now, with HMS Vengeance (Starboard) being the recipients last year.