Newcastle and Somme complete a hat-trick
19 August 2013
The Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Newcastle has completed a third Replenishment at Sea (RAS) activity with the French Command and Replenishment Ship FS Somme in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO).
The RAS 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 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, 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 and Somme will conduct another RAS soon to allow the Australian ship to continue operations without having to visit a port to refuel and resupply.
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. The current deployment is the 55th rotation of an Australian warship to the MEAO since 1990.