As she reaches the midway point of her Mediterranean deployment HMS Diamond has taken on fuel and supplies from the French tanker FS Var.
With the sun setting in the background, this is the fifth replenishment at sea (RAS) for the Type 45 destroyer which has been deployed in the region since January.
A difficult operation, a RAS requires both ships to travel about 15mph and be around 40 metres apart where they are then connected by a wire Jackstay which enables a large bore fuelling hose to pass across.
Petty Officer Scott Gratton, the Chief Bosun’s Mate who has responsibility for all seamanship evolutions, said: “Replenishing whilst underway is widely considered to be the most dangerous peacetime evolution a warship will carry out. It would be akin to driving alongside a petrol tanker on the motorway refuelling your car for around three hours.”
Around 40 people from across the ship’s specialisations are required to help during a RAS – from the ‘tankie’ who receives the fuel to the Quartermaster who is steering the ship.
As well as the fuel supply from the FS Var, which Diamond has met with twice, she has also taken on supplies three times from the USNS John Lenthall – a 40,000 ton Kaiser Class American tanker.
Since leaving her home base of Portsmouth, HMS Diamond has been at the forefront of operations. She is currently supporting Op RECSYR – an acronym that stands for Removal of Chemical Weapons from Syria. She is the UK’s naval contribution to the Danish-led Task Group which is providing force protection to merchant vessels tasked with transporting chemical substances and weapons out of Syria for destruction.
She took over the UK’s role from HMS Montrose, which has since returned to the UK, while alongside in Limassol, Cyprus. During their visit the ship’s company took the time to get of the ship and stretch their legs – taking part in a Back To School themed sports day which raised £615 for Sports Relief. The sporty sailors then took part in watersports, paintballing, go-karting, hill walking and golf, all of which was rounded off with a rugby match against the Limassol Crusaders.
Press Release, April 16, 2014, Image: Royal Navy