- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) conducted a replenishment at sea (RAS), which included a vertical replenishment (VERTREP) of supplies, with the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9) Oct. 3.
The replenishment of fuel and cargo was conducted simultaneously. During the RAS, Essex received more than 250,000 gallons of diesel fuel marine.
USS Essex leadership said Sailors focused on following procedures closely to ensure safety and efficiency.
“A couple days before hand, we set up the station and did walk-throughs with all our personnel to make sure they knew what their assignments were,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate (SW) Jeff Brooks. “While doing this you have to stay vigilant and pay attention. We try to stay two steps ahead of everything going on by thinking, ‘What do I need to do next?’ or ‘What do I have to do if this happens?’”
The RAS evolution also served as a teaching opportunity for Sailors learning to become proficient in deck evolutions.
“We took on all the fuel and a lot of lessons were learned for new personnel on station,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate (SW) Neil Baronet, safety coordinator for RAS station three. “The more experienced Sailors were able to teach the new guys the way we take on fuel. Everyone was safe and followed procedures and there were no mishaps.”
Organization was a key element in the completion of the RAS, and it was essential in the planning that took place between multiple departments that were involved in the vertical replenishment.
“The vertical replenishment is of absolute critical importance to get the supplies we need to carry out our mission,” said Lt. Scott Purcell, Essex air handler. “It takes a lot of coordination between the air department, engineering department, combat cargo - everyone gets involved in preparation for this.”
More than 100 palettes of supplies were brought on board Essex from the Matthew Perry via an SA-330J Puma helicopter. Gunnery Sgt. William A. Young, a combat cargo assistant, said the combat cargo department’s ability to orchestrate the palettes coming and going from Essex came from preparation and recent experience.
“We do a dry run as part of the training, but the on load that we do at White Beach Naval Facility really helps out,” said Young. “The Marines get a lot of training moving cargo into the upper and lower V of the ship. By the time we do the VERTREP they have a lot of experience and, being our first one, they did really well.”
Once the pallets of supplies were brought to the hangar bay, approximately 200 Sailors and Marines worked four hours to store the food and supplies throughout the ship.
Essex, commanded by Capt. David Fluker, is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and is currently conducting operations in the Western Pacific.