Story by PO2 Markus Castaneda on 08/09/2019TASMAN SEA (July 10, 2019) "Service with a smile," is the motto of a small group of ship's servicemen, or SH's, aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48). As the mission continues with exercise Talisman Sabre 19 and the tempo rises, S-3 Division ensures the rest of the crew are well-groomed, well-stocked and well-taken care of.
Operating and maintaining the ship's vending and cash collection machines, manning the barbershop, merchandise inventories and records-keeping are just a few of the many responsibilities ship's servicemen are entrusted with in the Navy since 1943.
"Our main mission is tied to the morale of the ship," said Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Justin Luangrath, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. "We're here to boost morale. We're here to satisfy what the crew needs daily. Customer service is the focus."
While SH's are not in the more visible, daily amphibious operations such as well deck operations or flight quarters, the work they put in behind the scenes contribute to the fight in many ways.
"I like to look at our job as the only place Sailors and Marines can not only get their needs but also their wants," said Chief Ship's Serviceman Bellarose Doloroso, from Honolulu, the leading chief petty officer of S-3. "Everybody needs a haircut and everybody needs their uniform cleaned and prepared properly for a certain inspection or occasion, but they also want a certain drink or snack and daily necessities. We provide both the needs and wants for the crew."
Along with providing the daily needs and wants for the crew, the SH's also have a significant financial task of managing the funds from the ship store as well as keeping accurate records and merchandise inventory, all while participating in the ship's mission.
"It is something like managing a business," said Doloroso. "There are plenty of records and paperwork that needs to be managed properly. It can be very challenging at times because we must be able to balance our responsibilities as an SH as well as being a Sailor. Overall, it is a rewarding life skill that can be used outside of the military."
Another contribution S-3 Division provides to the mission is providing support to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation, or MWR, aboard the ship. MWR's purpose is to also boost the morale of the crew by hosting activities for Sailors and Marines, coordinating tours and events during port visits, which are all offered at reduced prices courtesy of funds from the ship store.
"If I could sum it all up, it would be all about morale," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Christopher Campbell. "The mission will always be priority, but taking care of the crew in every aspect we can, whether it's a clean haircut in the barbershop, snacks from the ship store, or having clean laundry to wear for the next evolution; even the smallest things matter when we look at the bigger picture of the mission."
Ashland, part of the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group, with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is currently participating in Talisman Sabre 2019 off the coast of Northern Australia. A bilateral, biennial event, Talisman Sabre is designed to improve U.S. and Australian combat training, readiness and interoperability through realistic, relevant training necessary to maintain regional security, peace and stability.