Multi-Ship Replenishment at Sea off Horn of Africa
Whilst conducting counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa different nations from different task forces often meet. In this case the US supply ship USNS Joshua Humphreys from Task Force 53 provided two flagships with fuel.
FGS Brandenburg flagship of the EU Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta took station on the supplier’s left and ESPS Christobal Colon of NATO Operation Ocean Shield on the Joshua Humphreys’ right.
Ships from Task Force 53 provide regular replenishment support to the European Union’s counter-piracy warships and other international forces in the area of operations.
In Naval terms this is a “multi-ship RAS”, where more than one ship is replenished at the same time. In this scenario the US supplier acts as a moving petrol station at sea.
This manoeuvre presents a challenge for the crews of all the ships involved. Distances and speeds have to be altered very carefully in order to keep all refuelling stations aligned. Any incorrect manoeuvre can cause the connection to break and could lead to the fuel being spilled.
Press Release, April 18, 2014; Image: EU Navfor