While we’re at sea for extended periods, the vast majority of our supplies, parts and mail get transferred to us from other ships. Sometimes helicopters lift the cargo from flight deck to flight deck and other times it’s delivered on a highline connecting our ship with another. Both ways of re-supplying are categorized as “underway replenishment”, or UNREP, with transfer by helicopter known as “vertical replenishment”, or VERTREP, and transfer by highline known as “connected replenishment”, or CONREP.
An MH-60 delivers a load to the flight deck
CONREPs are further broken down into “fueling-at-sea”, or FAS, and “replenishment-at-sea”, or RAS. Both methods of transfer require extra maneuvering watches and crews to run either the flight deck or the replenishment rigs, and any time parts, mail or stores are delivered, all hands turn to and help strike the materials below. And, for a ship the size of RUSSELL, that means officers and chief petty officers, too.
A delivery ship transfers cargo by highline and pumps fuel simultaneously.
VERTREPs present the greatest challenge in stowing materials. For safety reasons, only a portion of the flight deck may be used to receive loads, so once the helicopter clears the deck, the crew has just a few minutes to get the pallets out of the cargo nets, repositioned and broken down, and the flight deck readied to receive another load.
Crew members break down a pallet of stores.
Meanwhile, the whole crew stands ready in a line inside the skin of the ship to pass the boxes and bags hand-to hand from the flight deck to their destination. A proficient crew will break down and stow materials at the rate of a pallet a minute for 30 to 45 minutes to complete an average replenishment.