Military Sealift Command Ships Provide Logistics Services to Ships-at-Sea During RIMPAC 2016

As the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise’s underway war games continue on the waters off the coast of Hawaii, Military Sealift Command is on station supporting the world’s largest, biennial international maritime exercise. Four MSC ships are providing logistical support to the 26 nations, 45 surface ships, 5 submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participating.

Since RIMPAC began June 26, USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187), USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) and USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) have been delivering the fuel to power the surface and aviation forces, as well as the groceries that sustained the ships’ crews during the exercise’s underway period July11-Aug. 4.

Civil service mariners from Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) load pallets of supplies before returning to sea to provide logistics services to ships participating in RIMPAC 2016.

Civil service mariners from Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) load pallets of supplies before returning to sea to provide logistics services to ships participating in RIMPAC 2016.

MSC is known for its logistics support to ships at sea, but what makes RIMPAC significant is the sheer volume of the support provided.  Over the course of the week of July 14-21, the four Combat Logistics Force Ships delivered over 3.5 million gallons of diesel ship fuel, nearly 2 million gallons of JP5 aviation fuel and 824 pallets of food and supplies to 35 ships.   In addition to the delivery of fuel and stores, Washington Chambers provided training platforms for small boat boarding exercises, training platforms for helicopter squadrons of various commands.
“Our biggest challenge has been maintaining the tight schedules and the demands of keeping the pace, the battle rhythm of RIMPAC 2016,” explained Capt. Dan Glazier, Washington Chambers civil service master.  “Duty Oilers have full schedules, supporting the fleet and providing training platforms.   So much of what we do is only seen by the crew and those getting the services.   There are a lot of unseen benefits when it comes to fleet readiness that the CLF ships are providing.”

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752)prepares to receive fuel from Military Sealift Command underway replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), during Rim of the Pacific exercise 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart/Released)

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752)prepares to receive fuel from Military Sealift Command underway replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), during Rim of the Pacific exercise 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart/Released)

Working with ships alongside on both sides of the MSC ships poses various challenges during operations.  Safety is paramount for the crew, the customer and the ocean environment.  For this reason, the Navy and MSC ensure each replenishment-at-sea event is carefully planned and coordinated, along with training for the crews and plenty of rest time between shifts on deck.  With the large number of foreign navy customers working with the MSC ships, good communication becomes paramount.

“The CLF ships, like Rainier, conduct UNREPS in large numbers annually.  Because of this, the crew is fully committed to providing the best, most efficient service possible,” said Capt. William Riley, Rainier’s civil service master.   “Shipboard ownership is probably the number one reason for their superlative performance.  We just completed a six month deployment with the USS John C. Stennis carrier strike group, and the RIMPAC crew has pretty much remained the same, so they are very experienced and seasoned and used to working together, which really helps operations go smoothly.”

160720-N-KR702-172 PACIFIC OCEAN (July 20, 2016) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) heave on a line while conducting an underway replenishment with the Military Sealift Command fast combat support Ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) during Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.  The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Holly L. Herline/Released)

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PACIFIC OCEAN (July 20, 2016) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) heave on a line while conducting an underway replenishment with the Military Sealift Command fast combat support Ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) during Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Holly L. Herline/Released)

The MSC logistics piece of RIMPAC isn’t limited to the ships at sea.  On the ground, the MSCPAC Combat Logistic Office coordinated the acquisition and movement of all the cargo needs for the entire exercise.  Working in concert with directly with Commander Third Fleet and Commander Task Force 173, the MSCPAC CLO coordinated not only the delivery of food and stores, but also the pierside time at the correct pier for the loadouts of cargo to the specific ships scheduled for later RAS. Six MSC ships, as well as MSC reservists from Military Sealift Command Pacific’s Headquarters Unit, MSCPAC’s Hawaii Detachment, and Expeditionary Port Unit 114, are supporting RIMPAC 2016.            RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise.  Held bi-annually, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.  RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971

The Fast Combat Support Ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) conducts a replenishment at sea with two ships during RIMPAC 2016.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emiline L. M. Senn/Released)

The Fast Combat Support Ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) conducts a replenishment at sea with two ships during RIMPAC 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emiline L. M. Senn/Released)

Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.