Iwo Jima Gets Back to Basics During RAS

USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) turned back the clock on seamanship during a refueling-at-sea (RAS) with the fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) Nov. 7.

In a day where texting, selfies and video chatting dominate conversations, Iwo Jima Sailors harkened back to a day where communicating with symbols didn’t mean using an emoji.

While steaming alongside at 13 knots at a distance of nearly 200 yards to port of its supplier, Sailors in the hangar bay, refueling stations and signal bridge “spoke” through Morse Code, flashing lights, signal flags and a phone-and-distance line as the ship took on nearly 500,000 gallons of JP-5 and D-76 fuel combined.

The goal? Getting back to basics.

“We live in a technology driven society,” said Capt. Joseph R. O’Brien, Iwo Jima’s Commanding Officer. “But as Sailors we still have to be proficient in traditional nautical communication. This RAS was a perfect opportunity to practice. All personnel involved were extremely aware of their responsibilities and safely executed their piece of the RAS efficiently and effectively. The Navy was built on traditions, and this was a great way to honor them.”

Even while using time-honored equipment, safety was still the top concern for the entire crew.

“It really is true, safety is the number one priority onboard Iwo Jima,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Carnes, Iwo Jima’s safety officer and officer of the deck during the RAS. “Every step of the way, leadership was in place providing the necessary assistance to Sailors involved. Today’s RAS took an all-hands effort and everyone was on top of their game today!”

Iwo Jima, components of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are conducting a Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise that is the culmination of training for the Navy-Marine Corps team and will certify them for deployment. The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th MEU and is comprised of Iwo Jima, the dock transport ship USS New York (LPD 21), the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2 and the embarked staff of PHIBRON 4.