Multi-ship replenishment at sea


In the course of counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa different nations from different task forces often meet the latest example being a multi-ship replenishment at sea.

The US supply ship USNS Joshua Humphreys from Task Force 53 provided two flagships with fuel. FGS Brandenburg flagship of the EU Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta took station on the supplier’s left and ESPS Christobal Colon of NATO Operation Ocean Shield on the Joshua Humphreys’ right.

Ships from Task Force 53 provide regular replenishment support to the European Union’s counter-piracy warships and other international forces in the area of operations.

In Naval terms this is a “multi-ship RAS”, where more than one ship is replenished at the same time. In this scenario the US supplier acts as a moving petrol station at sea.

This manoeuvre presents a challenge for the crews of all the ships involved. Distances and speeds have to be altered very carefully in order to keep all refuelling stations aligned. Any incorrect manoeuvre can cause the connection to break and could lead to the fuel being spilled.

FGS Brandenburg took over as flagship of EUNavFor’s Operation Atalanta at the beginning of this month when Rear Admiral Jurgen zur Muhlen took over as force commander. Since his arrival the German admiral has called on his NATO counterpart, Rear Admiral Eugenio Diaz Del Rio, on the current NATO flagship for Operation ocean Shield, the Spanish frigate ESPS Cristobal Colon. He also called on the Greek frigate, HS Psara, in the first weeks of his four month tour of duty.