A bucket-list wish for many crew members of auxiliary oiler replenishment ship HMAS Stalwart was to replenish a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with fuel and stores.
CAPTION: HMAS Stalwart conducts a replenishment at sea with aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the North Pacific Ocean. Story by Sub-Lieutenant Dewann du Plessis. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Aaron Robinson.
The wish was ticked off in November in the North Pacific Ocean when Stalwart conducted its 45th replenishment at sea (RAS) since commissioning a year earlier.
Able Seaman Kane Goldsworthy said it was rewarding to replenish the US Navy forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
“The buzz around the ship showed everyone was excited and eager to be involved,” Able Seaman Goldsworthy said.
After Stalwart hoisted a “Romeo” signal flag, Ronald Reagan manoeuvred into position, 60 metres abreast of the Royal Australian Navy ship.
A long hose was slung between the ships to transfer aviation fuel, while stores were transferred by heavy jackstay and two US Navy helicopters.
Vertical replenishment supervisor Leading Seaman Cassandra Eaton said working with the US Navy personnel and conducting a safe helicopter operation was a career highlight.
“Being a supply-chain sailor, it was a way to put my skills and knowledge to the test when working with another nation,” Leading Seaman Eaton said.
Lieutenant Allan Ferguson said the combined RAS was an impressive display of teamwork and capability.
“It’s incredibly rare for a Royal Australian Navy ship to do simultaneous liquid, stores and vertical replenishment in one go,” Lieutenant Ferguson said.
“I’ve been in the Navy 33 years and this is the second one for me.
“I was 18 or 19 when I saw the first one.
“It’s a big deal for our medium-sized navy.”
Following the aircraft carrier replenishment, Stalwart completed a dual RAS with US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Millius and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Setogiri.
The day’s interactions allowed ships crews to swap mementos.
As Stalwart’s crew compared assorted hats, unit patches and ship’s coins it was evident that the day was something special.