Story by MC3 Dugan Flynn
Photo by MC2 Walter Wayman
Moving 450,000 gallons of JP5, 300 pallets of vital stores, and more than 30 pallets of crew mail could be considered a great effort, but that’s exactly what sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis accomplish each week.
Teams comprised of Sailors from Supply, Air, and Deck Departments, as well as many others, come together to perform replenishments at sea (RAS) on a regular basis while on deployment.
“RAS are vital not only operationally, but also for crew support,” said Boatswains Mate 2nd Class (SW/SC) Alex Armour, a rig captain assigned to Stennis’ Deck Department. “It’s the method which we receive fuel and necessary stores that come aboard the ship. It’s also important because that’s how we get our mail. It has a great impact on morale to allow personnel to get packages and letters from loved ones back home.”
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Smith, the Fuels Boatswain, said when flight operations are in progress, the aircraft on board consume an average of 120,000 gallons a day and must replenish up to 1,000,000 gallons every seven to ten days.
“Without fuel, our planes can’t fly and we’re dead in the water,” said Smith. “To maintain sustainability and launch aircraft, it’s very important that we get the fuel, clean it and deliver it to the planes.”
To ensure the fuel is the best quality Stennis could possibly receive, the fuel lab must run a series of tests on it before filling the ship’s fuel tanks.
“The first thing we do when we take in fuel from another ship is make sure it’s JP5,” said Smith. “At the beginning of the fueling process, we take a sample to the Quality Assurance lab. The main thing I’m looking for is the appearance and flashpoint to be 140 degrees or above.”
During extended periods out at sea, a RAS is important to bring the supplies to the ship when it isn’t feasible to pull into a port.
“The main importance of a RAS is to replenish the carrier out at sea,” said Senior Chief Logistics Specialist Gerard Penrose, Stennis’ hangar bay and safety coordinator for the RAS. “This allows us to stay on station so we don’t have to pull into port every time we need to get supplies again.”
It takes the efforts and teamwork of the entire ship to complete a RAS and ensure the whole evolution is safe and efficient said Penrose.
“The RAS is not just a supply evolution,” said Penrose, “It’s an entire ship evolution. We as supply couldn’t do it without Deck Department, the Navigation team, the Bridge team; every individual plays a key role in the successful onload of materials onboard the ship.”
Replenishments at sea play a vital role for ship’s readiness by maintaining maximum efficiency while conducting extended operations out to sea.