A Dutch and a Royal Navy ship recently completed what was termed by the Royal Navy as “the easiest RAS ever”, as support vessel RFA Mounts Bay took on fuel from Dutch ship HNLMS Karel Doorman in the Caribbean.
A difficult – potentially dangerous – manoeuvre it’s typically performed mid-Ocean between a Royal Fleet Auxiliary and a warship to allow the latter to remain on station for extended periods.
Like HMS Ocean, the Doorman – an amphibious support vessel – was sent across the Atlantic in the wake of last months hurricanes.
As well as loading relief from her native country to help Dutch citizens affected by the succession of storms, the Doorman – actually shared by the Netherlands and Germany – also took on board some humanitarian aid from Portsmouth.
That was offloaded for transfer to Mounts Bay in Philipsburg, St Maarten, the Dutch half of the small island.
So one container and two fire vehicles were delivered to the RFA, ready for onward transport to the British Virgin Islands.
The British vessel also took advantage of Karel Doorman’s presence to top up on fuel – alongside at the jetty, firing the gunline just a few feet before the fuel lines themselves were sent over the gap.
Some 340 cubic metres of fuel for the ship (just shy of 90,000 gallons) and 53 ‘cubes’ for the Wildcat (14,000 gallons) were pumped across from the Dutch ship’s fuel tanks.
Mounts Bay is now on her way to the British Virgin Islands to deliver her aid and fire trucks as part of the ongoing relief effort.