USNS Big Horn returns from European, Middle East deployment

USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) transiting the North Sea in October 2018. Photo: US Navy

US Military Sealift Command’s fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) pulled into Naval Station Norfolk, Dec. 17, completing a 10-month deployment in the US Fifth Fleet and US Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.

“Some of the missions USNS Big Horn undertook during this deployment included the logistical support for the NATO exercise Trident Juncture and Carrier Strike Group 8 with the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) and Destroyer Squadron 28 along with NATO Allies of the Royal Norwegian Navy and the Royal Danish Navy,” said Capt. Timothy Porter, USNS Big Horn’s master.

“These operations took the USNS Big Horn throughout the British Isles, North Sea and North of the Arctic Circle. In accordance with long standing nautical tradition, the ship and its crew were appointed the ‘Order of the Blue Nose’ for the daunting trek.”

The ‘Order of the Blue Nose’, also known as ‘Northern Domain of the ‘Polar Bear,’ is an unofficial honorary title presented to mariners and sailors who travel north of the Arctic Circle (66-32 South latitude), according to the Naval History and Heritage Command website.

“USNS Big Horn’s crew made all the difference while deployed as our operations were conducted smoothly and efficiently,” said Porter. “At times, we would be delivering aviation fuel to USS Harry S Truman on the portside, marine fuel to a ‘small boy’ on the starboard side, and conducting flight quarter operations for palletized materials, all at the same time.”

Big Horn is crewed by 82 civil service mariners who operate all aspects of the ship including, navigation, engineering and communications.

“Everyone pitched in and picked up their game when called upon during stressful re-supply operations,” Porter said. “From the Cargo Officer Dale Cramer, to the bosun to the steward utilities, the whole crew would take part in the largest of replenishment events. Deckplate leadership by Cargo Mate Michelle Jackson and Ship’s Bosun Justin Lyon ensured cargo flowed smoothly to our customers.”

USNS Big Horn sailed over 65,000 nautical miles during the deployment. They delivered 14.1 million gallons of marine fuel, 5.4 million gallons of aviation fuel and 712 pallets of supplies.

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