Tuesday, March 17, 2009

DESRON 24 Group Sail Units Execute Complex Refueling at Sea

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Nistas, COMDESRON 24 Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 24 Group Sail participants took part in a complex five-ship Replenishment-at-sea (RAS) March 12 in the Atlantic Ocean.

The RAS was one of several evolutions executed during Fleet Irregular Warfare Training for ships participating in the upcoming Joint Warrior exercise.

USNS Arctic (T-AOE-8) refueled USS Porter (DDG 78), USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), and USS Anzio (CG 68) consecutively in a fast-paced evolution that integrated intense drills such as emergency breakaways.

Porter alone received about 150,000 gallons of diesel fuel marine (DFM) from the Arctic, a massive supply ship with a holding capacity of almost two million gallons.

"There were a lot of new people on board who were able take part and see firsthand how a RAS works," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Alicia Turner, a corpsman-on-scene during the exercise. "It was a great training experience for everyone. A multiple-ship refueling is a pretty difficult thing to carry out, but the crews performed well together."

Crew members manned stations, communicated with one another, heaved lines, and maintained a phone and distance line throughout the almost two-hour process. While RAS evolutions are common for ships at sea, involving additional ships can make the process more complex and dangerous, as the distance between the mammoth, moving vessels is normally less than 200 feet.

"Training is mandatory to give new and seasoned Sailors the experience they'll really need to make it through a difficult scenario under pressure," said Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW) Derek Woodland, on board Porter.
"There are a lot of safety concerns and proper procedures involved in things like this [RAS]. Without thorough training, our ability to get through these kinds of operations would deteriorate."