USS PORTER, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile Destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) completed a replenishment at sea (RAS) with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthall (T-AO 189) Feb. 1.
"(Today) we are taking 160,000 pounds of F-76 fuel and 17 pallets of Cargo from Lenthall," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Anthony P. Osborne. "It will take approximately two hours to complete this RAS evolution."
An MSC ship's role is to provide fuel and cargo to U.S. Navy and allied ships underway conducting operations or training. This enables Navy warships to deploy for long periods of time without having to enter a port for supplies.
"A RAS is a critical enabler of the Navy's unique expeditionary flexibility," said Porter Commanding Officer Cmdr. Martin F. Arriola. "The ability to receive fuel, ammunition, parts and food at sea translates directly to enhanced on-station time for combatant commanders."
"The number of replenishments varies based on fuel consumption, but I expect to receive fuel while at sea about once every seven to 10 days," said Arriola. "It is important to note that we can spread out that number significantly if required."
One of the most critical components of a successful RAS is safety. According to Arriola, maneuvering a 9,000-ton ship at a distance of 140 ft. from a 60,000-ton ship for a couple of hours requires proper execution by all involved.
"We rehearse and practice emergency actions as a matter of routine, so that the required actions become second nature," said Arriola. "This in turn leads to confidence and coolness under pressure during these evolutions."
"Sailors are required to keep their head on a swivel, being always aware of their surroundings," said Osborne. "Some of the risks involved during a RAS evolution include a man overboard, a collision, trip hazards, fires and explosions.
"I tell my Sailors to never turn their back to the rig and always be in proper personal protective equipment. This includes steel-toed boots, a hard hat, a chin strap, a life jacket, and being in proper battle dress."
Osborne said a typical RAS is an all hands evolution. Every Sailor plays a major role. There is a qualified bridge team with a master helmsman. Sailors on station will consist of a safety observer, rig captain, riggers, signalman and phone talkers, who are usually from deck division. All departments provide personnel to act as line handlers. Engineering personnel take fuel samples and advise the ship as to when to secure pumping and gunner's mates are on station to fire shot line, if needed.
"I have been very proud of the professional way that Porter has conducted replenishments," said Arriola. "As our primary means to receive fuel and stores, it's important to get this evolution right the first time and every time."
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