Military Sealift Command Ships Provide Logistics Services in Support of Deploying USS Essex Amphibious Readiness Group

Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) and MSC dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7) took time out from their participation in the ongoing Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 exercise to provide logistics services to two ships of the USS Essex Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) One, as they took on fuel and stores in Hawaii, in support of their deployment to the western Pacific, this weekend.

Through a series of  replenishments-at-sea (RAS), the MSC ships delivered over 400  pallets of food, parts and equipment as well as 850 thousand gallons of diesel ship fuel and 84 thousand gallons of JP5 aviation fuel to the U.S Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and  the guided missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59).

While providing logistics services is the bread and butter of Rappahannock and Brashear, moving from the RIMPAC exercise to a deployment scenario had its own set of challenges.  According to Capt. Mike Grogan, Brashear’s civil service master, working between two different task force commands brought a new dynamic to the operations.

“One of the large challenges that we encountered is that the Essex ARG is a Commander Taskforce 33 (CTF 33) while RIMPAC logistics is scheduled by Commander Task Group 173 (CTG 173) This means that we had to change operational commanders for the event,” explained Grogan.  “On paper, this was not an issue, until we started the event. We had to coordinate with CTG 173 to move our follow-on RIMPAC customers out of their operational areas so that we could meet them on schedule.  Prior to the event with Essex, we were tasked with providing a high priority cargo movement to a RIMPAC unit.  That meant that we were constantly shifting gears meet our timelines and the follow-on missions of the ships we were serving.  We wanted to please all parties, but it became more challenging once the music started.”

While Rappahannock provided fuel via underway replenishment at sea, Brashear conducted their cargo transfer via air, through a series of vertical replenishments (VERTREP).  While Brashear has provided logistics services to the ships participating in RIMPAC, the transfer with the ARG was the first time this month they were able to conduct operations via VERTREP.

“There’s very little difference between our logistics events for RIMPAC and with the Essex ARG except that we are replenishing via VERTREP, said Grogan.   “The quantity of material transferred to Essex dwarfed the numbers we typically transfer to RIMPAC participants.  This could be due to the large number of hungry Marines onboard the LPD.”

For Grogan and the crew of Brashear, RIMPAC and the ARG replenishment are just another opportunity for them to be underway, servicing customers and fine-tuning the way they do business.

“Working with an ARG and large deck ships provided opportunities for us to improve the level of service we can provide, allowing us to remain proficient in delivering large quantities of cargo,” said Grogan.

Brashear and Rappahannock will continue to provide logistics services to the 25 nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines participating in RIMPAC 2018, the largest maritime exercise in the world through Aug. 2.


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