Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fitzgerald Successfully Refuels at Sea

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Bryan Reckard, Fleet Public Affairs Det. Japan
Cmdr. Daniel P. Dusek, commanding officer of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), looks ahead as his ship maneuvers behind Military Sealift Command underway replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) awaiting an underway replenishment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nardelito Gervacio)

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) successfully completed a replenishment at sea (RAS) Dec. 2, while participating in SHAREM 155, a Ship Anti-Submarine Warfare Readiness and Evaluation Measurement exercise in the western Pacific.

According to Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) William Biles, a safety observer, during the two-hour evolution Fitzgerald safely took on 170,000 gallons of diesel fuel marine from fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204).

"We bring on about 170,000 to 180,000 gallons of fuel each time we do a RAS and it takes about an hour to an hour and a half," said Biles.

While one of the main goals of the RAS is to refuel the ship, Biles says that safety, especially for less experienced Sailor's is a top priority.

"While on station, new crew members need to pay attention to what's going on at the station, because there's a lot of terminology that people might not understand," said Biles. "If you are new, [you need to] pay attention to the person in front of you."

While Biles is the main safety observer on deck, evolutions as dangerous as a RAS require additional safety observers topside to keep a watchful eye on their shipmates.

Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class (SW) Lindsey Garcia is the petty officer in charge on the forward line and is responsible for the safety of 10 to 12 line handlers at any given time.

"I'm the overall safety observer for the line handlers in my line, making sure that they all pay attention to what they are doing," said Garcia.

As part of the forward-deployed naval forces, Fitzgerald's high operational tempo calls for a RAS every few days to ensure the combat readiness of the ship.

"The ship needs fuel and we have to get the fuel to the ship," said Biles. "This pretty much happens every three days underway, so the crew is pretty experienced at doing it."

Fitzgerald is forward-deployed and operates out of Yokosuka, Japan. Three other U.S Navy Ships operating out of Yokosuka are currently participating in SHAREM 155 as well including USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Lassen (DDG 82) and USS McCampbell (DDG 85).