HMAS Newcastle’s third Replenishment at Sea (RAS) activity in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) was conducted with the French Command and Replenishment Ship FS Somme.
The RAS, which was performed in early July, was the Australian ship’s sixth with a coalition replenishment vessel since commencing maritime security patrols in the region on 27 May.
During the evolution, Newcastle received 155,100 litres of diesel fuel from Somme and simultaneously transferred a British Royal Navy Officer to the French ship by helicopter.
The Royal Navy Officer was cross-decking his way through several coalition ships to get to Djibouti airport, so that he could make his way home to England. Newcastle’s S-70B-2 Seahawk Helicopter delivered him to Somme by winching him onto the French ship’s flight deck.
The evolution started late in the afternoon and continued past sunset, and allowed Newcastle to stay in the patrol area as part of counter terrorism operations with the multi-national Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150).
Lieutenant Gareth Giles, Newcastle’s Assistant Marine Engineering Officer (AMEO), said fuelling at sea is quicker than fuelling alongside.
“We prefer to refuel at sea so that we can continue our operations with minimal disruption and fewer security concerns,” Lieutenant Giles said.
Newcastle is deployed to the MEAO as part of Operation SLIPPER – the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement.
Her current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.
Press Release, August 30, 2013; Image: Australian Navy