USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea – The crew of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) conducted a replenishment at sea (RAS) with the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) and the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) in the Gulf of Thailand, Feb. 18.
During the RAS, the ship took on more than 375,000 gallons of diesel fuel marine (DFM), 100,000 gallons of aviation fuel (JP-5) and 258 pallets of supplies, equipment and mail - all essential parts of the ship's mission and crew morale.
“We took on 184 pallets, 300 different line items, approximately $300,000 worth of food and provisions,” said Chief Warrant Officer Ernesto Garcia, Bonhomme Richard’s food service officer. “That is enough to feed the crew of the Bonhomme Richard for just over two weeks.”
Along with more than 100,000 pounds of fresh, frozen and dry storage food and goods to fuel the Sailors, mail is a much anticipated item brought on board during a RAS.
Logistics Specialist Seaman Adam Sharpe said receiving mail during deployment is a powerful morale booster for the crew, and for him – a very rewarding part of his day.
“We received more than 20 pallets of mail today,” said Sharpe, from Burlington, N.C. “One of the things I love most about working in the ship’s post office is seeing a smile on someone’s face after I hand them a piece of mail they have been waiting for.”
According to Bonhomme Richard’s Assistant First Lieutenant (AFL) Lt. David Roach, an underway replenishment can be a daunting and potentially hazardous evolution as it presents unique challenges, and requires the efforts of many crew members to complete it swiftly and efficiently.
“It is the training and on-station safety briefs we provide that enable our people to safely conduct a replenishment at sea, and to ultimately accomplish the Navy’s mission,” said Roach.
For Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Eric Santiago, the keys to a successful RAS are experience and a sharp eye.
"Pretty much all of our evolutions have the potential to be dangerous, but a RAS has a lot of moving parts," he said. "The level of intensity is very high. There's no room for complacency; you have to be sharp."
Despite this, Santiago said he enjoys the excitement of refueling while the ship is underway.
"It always feels good after a RAS that went well," said Santiago. "We're proud of ourselves when we're done."
Garcia said it takes every Sailor on the ship to successfully complete an underway replenishment.
“It takes more than just boatswain’s mates and supply department to make this happen,” said Garcia. From the pilots and crew of the helicopter squadron and the embarked Marines to the machinist’s mates in auxiliary division operating the elevators; it is a ship-wide effort,” he said. "Every person makes a difference."