March 11, 2017 – When you’re on the run from enemy submarines, defending against hostile aircraft, and fighting to maintain sea control, it’s always good to know that food, fuel and essential supplies are not far away.
The worry is reduced even further when they’re delivered by close friends and neighbors with a reassuring smile.
That was the case for Australian frigate HMAS Parramatta recently when she rendezvoused with Royal New Zealand Navy replenishment ship HMNZS Endeavour in the southern Indian Ocean.
The two ships have been participating in the complex and multinational maritime warfare exercise OCEAN EXPLORER off the Western Australian coast.
Having sailed from HMAS Stirling in Rockingham five days earlier, HMAS Parramatta was thirsty for a top up of high grade diesel fuel.
She took on 210,000 liters of fuel in one large gulp, enough to last at least another seven days until the end of the exercise.
HMAS Parramatta’s Marine Engineering Officer Lieutenant Commander Shanker Singh said the replenishment at sea was not uncommon for the Royal Australian Navy.
“It is something that we continually practice amongst ourselves and with our coalition partners on operations and exercises,” he said.
“If we run out of fuel or food, we can’t stay in the fight,” he said.
“It’s very reassuring to see a friendly foreign ship on the horizon, especially one from our close neighbors across the ditch, knowing they’re only too happy to help.”
Parramatta’s replenishment by Endeavour was her first from a foreign warship since undergoing the anti-ship missile defense upgrade, and the process went smoothly and according to plan.
“Today’s replenishment was professionally executed by both ships’ companies, and in all it was a job well done,” Lieutenant Commander Singh said.
“During the refueling operation the two ships closed to an approximate distance of 40 metres while maintaining an identical course.”
The amount of fuel taken onboard by Parramatta was monitored by tank level indicators located in the Machinery Control Room.
A secondary monitoring method was carried out by marine engineering sailors who physically ‘dipped’ the tanks to ensure the quantities reported by the indicators were correct.
“Once the refueling process was completed the two ships parted ways and resumed their assigned sectors to continue on with the war fighting,” Lieutenant Commander Singh said.
The exercise involved more than 17 ships, submarines and aircraft from five participating navies, including the Spanish Armada’s ESPS Cristobal Colon, HMNZ Ships Te Kaha and Endeavour and for a brief period Italian frigate ITS Caribiniere.
The exercise is one of the final stages of training in the Royal Australian Navy’s shift to maintaining adaptive and responsive maritime task groups.