HMAS Newcastle Holds Two RAS Operations

HMAS Newcastle Makes Two RAS Operations

HMAS Newcastle has conducted two Replenishment At Sea (RAS) operations in two weeks with one of the world’s biggest combat supply vessels in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO).

Newcastle received fuel on both occasions from the United States Naval Ship USNS Rainier allowing the Australian warship to continue her counter piracy mission in the MEAO without needing to visit a port to resupply.

During the first RAS, Newcastle took on 165,000 litres of marine diesel fuel and 31,000 litres of aviation fuel from Rainier by conducting a RAS-L (liquids) down aft and also simultaneously used a Heavy Jackstay forward.

Chief Petty Officer Boatswain Greg Morris said Heavy Jackstays were an efficient method of transferring stores between ships at sea.

“The Heavy Jackstay is a method of transferring heavy stores or ammunition from a supply ship to ours, by personnel heaving on lines which are hooked up to both ships,” he said.

“It is capable of a higher rate of transfer than vertical (helicopter) replenishment, but requires us to maintain station on the supply ship for a long time.”

“We didn’t need stores on this occasion, but we transferred a test weight to meet mutual training targets. We wanted to prove our rig, while Rainier used the evolution to conduct training for her winch drivers.”

The second RAS allowed Newcastle to take on another 320,000 litres of marine diesel fuel and 15,000 litres of aviation fuel from the 49,000 tonne American replenishment ship, whose motto is “Legend of Service”.

HMAS Newcastle Makes Two RAS Operations.

In a role swap, Newcastle’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Stuart Mayer assumed Command to control the second RAS from the ship’s bridge, while Commanding Officer Commander Paul O’Grady acted as the evolution Safety Officer.

The second RAS with Rainier was Newcastle’s eighth since arriving in the MEAO on May 27. She had previously also been replenished by USNS Medgar Evers, USNS Patuxent, French Ship Somme (on three occasions) and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Victoria.

“Replenishment at sea demonstrates the outstanding level of cooperation that exists between coalition vessels operating in this region. Replenishing at sea allows us to stay out here, focused on our maritime security mission,” Commander O’Grady said.

“With all this practice, Newcastle’s evolutions teams are highly proficient and doing a fantastic job.”

Newcastle is in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) as part of Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.

Her deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.
Press Release, August 21, 2013; Image: Australian Navy