PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) transferred fuel to dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) during an underway replenishment, Dec. 10. This event was unique in that Boxer is the only ship in the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the capability to provide fuel as well as receive it.
"Underway replenishment is a key element in our operational readiness," said Capt. Keith Moore, the commodore of Amphibious Squadron One. "We rarely get the chance to flex our capability of providing fuel from the 'big-deck', to smaller ships like Harpers Ferry, but it is a core competency that allows us to be fully self-sufficient when we are deployed."
Boxer last used the fuel delivery system in 2009 making this rare event an important training opportunity. Making this event even more unusual, Boxer is one of only two ships of this class that has an A-frame delivery system, which requires a separate winch to lower the entire fuel delivery system over the side making it a difficult process.
"There were only three personnel [left on boxer] that have actually sent this rig in the past," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jimmy George, Boxer's Boatswain. "I could not have inherited a better group of young men and women. I couldn't be more proud of our team for completing this certification safely and professionally."
While travelling side by side with a mere 180 feet of separation, Sailors shot lines from one ship to the other to establish communication and connect the rig to run fuel lines. The fuel lines were then pulled to Harpers Ferry, enabling the fuel transfer to start.
"[Boxer] is not an oiler and this is an evolution that they haven't done in a while, so that's different right off the bat," said Cmdr. Jon Rigby, commanding officer of Harpers Ferry. "Oilers do it every day, and LHDs will only do it once a training cycle so there's the rust that you have to worry about getting knocked off."
Though rarely done, the replenishment at sea between Boxer and Harpers Ferry gives the ARG commander options for sustaining the force at sea for extended periods of time and makes the force more self-reliant.
"The evolution was professionally done by team Boxer and team Harpers Ferry," said Moore. "For an evolution that hasn't been conducted in years, you couldn't look for a smoother execution."
The Boxer ARG is composed of Boxer, Harpers Ferry, and amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD 18), and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).