USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Phase two of USS Harry S. Truman's (CVN 75) involvement in Joint Task Force (JTF) Katrina began at dawn Sept. 2 with a refueling at sea (RAS).
Truman received 1.3 million gallons of jet fuel from USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) to support Army and Navy helicopters that are scheduled to embark tomorrow.
"We've never taken on this much fuel at one time since I've been here," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 2nd Class Johnny Clayborne. Clayborne is a New Orleans native who has been stationed on board for two years. "It's difficult. This is a larger amount of fuel, so we have to do a lot more testing for the purity of the fuel."
The SH-60 Seahawk and Army UH-60 Blackhawks scheduled to come aboard will fly to and from the ship with food, water and other supplies for those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
"We have more than 20,000 bottles of water and more than 17,000 [meals, ready to eat]," said Supply Officer Cmdr. John Palmer, of Lexington, Ky. We also have cots, sheets and blankets, said Palmer.
Truman is scheduled to arrive off the Gulf Coast early Sunday morning, and one of her tasks will be to support the helicopters bringing these items ashore.
"We are unsure of how many helos will come aboard, but it will probably be between 30 and 40," said Truman's Air Boss, Cmdr. Doug Carsten of Byron, Mich. "We talked with our counterparts on the West Coast, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), who helped in a similar mission during the tsunami relief. They were doing up to 90 missions a day. I think we can match that here aboard Truman."
For all the key players, this RAS was business as usual, but as usual, it required the utmost cooperation among the various departments involved.
"If one of us is tired, the other will pick up the slack," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class David Tuttle of Enfield, Conn. "We've got all our shipmates looking out for one another."
In addition to aviation boatswain's mate specialists handling the fuel hoses and storing the fuel for further use, boatswain's mates and gunner's mates also manned replenishment stations.
"During underway replenishments, we always work together," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Josh Van Drei, of Valley City, Ohio. "We can't do it without the gunners; we can't pump fuel without the 'fuelies' and we can't run the station without Deck Department. Everybody has to cooperate together to get this done."
While the job was routine, the focus was definitely much different. The RAS detail wasn't simply loading fruit, vegetables or soda for use aboard Truman, but rather, serving a purpose toward the greater good.
"It makes me feel proud - Americans helping Americans," said Van Drei. "We're primarily a fighting force and not a humanitarian aid force, but going to help people lets them see the wide range of what the military can do."
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.
For the latest Navy news on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/hurricane/.