SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) conducted an underway replenishment (UNREP), including a vertical replenishment (VERTREP), March 24.
The replenishment was the first time Fitzgerald had conducted a replenishment at sea since the ship’s selected restricted availability ended in late January 2017.
A Puma helicopter, assigned to the Dry Cargo and Ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE 14), completed the VERTREP event with assistance and guidance from Fitzgerald Sailors on the flight deck.
Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Megumi Gudino, a native of Yokosuka, Japan, said, “The helicopter will hover only a few feet from the flight deck, so we have to be careful and pay close attention to what’s going on.”
Soon after the VERTREP completed, the ship set up to steam alongside Cesar Chavez to receive fuel.
“It is vitally important to be able to replenish at sea,” said Cmdr. Robert Shu, commanding officer of Fitzgerald. “We are one of only a few Navies in the world which can do so. This is an awesome chance to do some precision driving out here in the South China Sea.”
When Fitzgerald was steaming with Cesar Chavez, Shu took the time to mentor the Junior Officers on board. He instructed them in the proper way to give maneuvering commands to the Sailors driving the ship so the evolution would go along smoothly.
“There is not a lot of room for error with the Venturi Effect, it is difficult for someone who is doing this for their first time or even someone who has done this several times,” said Lt. Timothy Winters, a native of Fairfield, Maine.
Shu emphasized the importance of communication during the replenishment events, he said,“Between all stations, all communications matter. Communication matters because there are a lot of moving parts within a replenishment evolution. The entire crew on both ships plays a role in the ships working together and being safe. Without the proper communication, replenishment events would not run smoothly and could potentially be dangerous.”
During the replenishment Fitzgerald took on 4,527 pounds of food and dry goods and roughly 168,000 gallons of fuel. The stores brought on the ship help the day to day evolutions of keeping the ship at sea.
Fitzgerald is on patrol in the South China Sea in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.