USNS Joshua Humphreys provides vital support to 5th Fleet warfighters

Our Naval forces of U.S. 5th Fleet operate day in and day out to support missions like Operation Enduring Freedom, maritime security operations, and cooperation exercises with our partners in the region. None of these exercises, operations or daily tasks would be possible without a well-coordinated sustainment plan and the associated infrastructure. MSC provides that sustainment by working with 5th Fleet’s other task forces, and Combined Maritime Forces members, to meet supply and logistics demands of ships across the region. These three commands fulfill different aspects of the overarching sustainment mission, and work together to get our forces what they need. The following blog is part of a series focused on MSC support to 5th Fleet, written by Lt. j.g. Paul Williams, a Navy reservist who visited the Central Command AOR during May 2013.

“I feel we have perfected the art of underway replenishment. We feel there is nothing we can’t do and can stand by our promise of delivering for the 5th Fleet, anytime, anywhere.”Pat Mooney, ship’s boatswain

USNS Joshua Humphreys  is conducting underway replenishment operations for U.S. Navy and allied coalition ships in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.  (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g.  Paul J. Williams/Released)

USNS Joshua Humphreys is conducting underway replenishment operations for U.S. Navy and allied coalition ships in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Paul J. Williams/Released)

Ships of U.S. 5th Fleet, which operate in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) AOR, rely on Navy ships, such as the USNS Joshua Humphreys (T-AO 188), to remain underway and on mission.

Joshua Humphreys is a Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler – essentially a floating gas station and cargo ship – which provides underway replenishment support to U.S. and allied combatant ships. Currently assigned to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) area of responsibility, the Humphreys is a part of MSC’s Combat Logistical Force. 

One important characteristic of these ships is their superior fuel capacity. In addition to providing ship fuel, Joshua Humphreys and other Henry J. Kaiser-class oilers provide aviation fuel for maritime aviation operations as well as military cargo and supplies.

“The capacity of this ship to provide the amount of fuel as well as cargo allows Fifth Fleet ships to stay on station and perform their duties without having to come into port,” said Mooney.

Civilian crew aboard USNS Joshua Humphreys perform a stern fuel replenishment for United States Coast Guard Cutter Chinook (WPB 87308).  Joshua Humphreys  is conducting underway replenishment operations for U.S. Navy and allied coalition ships in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.  (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g.  Paul J. Williams/Released)

Civilian crew aboard USNS Joshua Humphreys perform a stern fuel replenishment for United States Coast Guard Cutter Chinook (WPB 87308). Joshua Humphreys is conducting underway replenishment operations for U.S. Navy and allied coalition ships in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Paul J. Williams/Released)

The efficiency of MSC’s replenishing operations actually saves time by limiting a ship’s need to return to a port to receive necessary fuel and supplies. Underway replenishment also saves ships fuel by remaining on station rather than expending fuel to receive supplies at a port.

Humphreys’ range of replenishment capabilities was displayed while refueling of the United States Coast Guard cutters Chinook (WPB 87308) and Adak (WPB 1333). U.S. Coast Guard vessels have different fuel connection configurations than their U.S. Navy counterparts requiring underway refueling to be performed from the stern instead of the more common side-by-side refueling process.    

Coast Guard Cutter Chinook (WPB 87308) receiving ship fuel during an underway replenishment from USNS Joshua Humphreys. Humphreys  is conducting underway replenishment operations for U.S. Navy and allied coalition ships in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.  (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g.  Paul J. Williams/Released)

Coast Guard Cutter Chinook (WPB 87308) receiving ship fuel during an underway replenishment from USNS Joshua Humphreys. Humphreys is conducting underway replenishment operations for U.S. Navy and allied coalition ships in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Paul J. Williams/Released)

NAVCENT is responsible for approximately 2.5 million square miles of area including the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Sea of Oman, parts of the Indian Ocean, and 20 countries. Its mission is to conduct maritime security operations, defeat violent extremism, and strengthen partner nations’ maritime capabilities in order to promote security and stability in the CENTCOM AOR. MSC personnel understand these missions and know they play an important role in supporting them.

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