HMS Sutherland Shows Flexibility in Indian Ocean


HMS Sutherland Shows Flexibility in Indian Ocean

HMS Sutherland met up with the giant American support ship USNS Supply to take on fuel and other supplies – and support her ongoing fight against illegal activity on sea lanes in the Indian Ocean.

This a very bendy HMS Sutherland – as seen from close to the top of her 996 radar mast, where LA(Phot) Ben Sutton was precariously perched while the ship took on fuel from the aptly-named US Naval Ship Supply somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

And if you look closely, off Supply’s starboard beam, Arleigh Burke destroyer USS Nitze, is also receiving black gold from the 48,000-tonne support ship.

Supply is one of several auxiliaries which are key to provide fuel, stores, food, spare parts and other supplies to allow warships from several nations to maintain their presence on patrol in ‘Pirate Alley’ and the ‘Hashish Highway’.

At any one time around a dozen warships are assigned to the international mission directed by the Combined Maritime Forces based in Bahrain, working in two distinct task forces: CTF 150 (counter-terrorism/smuggling) and CTF 151 (counter-piracy).

Given the scale of the area involved – two and a half million square miles of ocean, or more than eight times the size of the North Sea – and the thirsty nature of warships, resupply, known as replenishment at sea, or RASing, is carried out every week or so.

Making sure that dry stores are safely landed aboard from jackstay transfers during each RAS is 28-year-old seaman specialist LS(Sea) David ‘Shiner’ Wright from Holland-on-Sea in Essex.

The former estate agent and shipping clerk who’s been in the Royal Navy for the past five years is also in charge of a 26-man mess of junior ratings… the upper deck safety equipment on the Fighting Clan… the three able seamen in his team… maintaining essential life-saving and search and rescue kit… and lowering and raising Sutherland’s sea boats when they are launched and recovered for boarding operations during a typical 12-hour working day.

“Having such a diverse role onboard, no two days are the same,” says David.

“But the best part of the job? Travelling all over the world and getting paid for it: I’ve visited Chile, the Falklands, Cape Verde, Brazil, the Azores, New York, Miami, Trinidad, Norway, Germany, Denmark and Belgium.”

But not on this deployment…

His ship will be away from home in Devonport on her wide-ranging maritime security mission until just before Christmas.

Naval Today Staff,October 04, 2012; Image: Royal Navy