HMAS Supply Arrives in Tonga

Navy auxiliary oiler replenishment ship HMAS Supply arrived in Tongan waters as part of Operation Tonga Assist 2022 on February 12.

The ship’s company got down to work straightaway, conducting its first replenishment at sea (RAS) with HMAS Adelaide the same day.

HMAS Supply sailor Petty Officer Boatswain Michael Hirschausen oversaw the RAS and said it’s a whole-ship evolution involving all departments on board the ship.

“Boatswains and boatswains’ mates manage the seamanship, engineers coordinate the refueling, and electronics technicians assist with ship-to-ship communications,” Petty Officer Hirschausen said.

Marine technicians test the fuel for quality in between the initial hose hook-up and the start of fuel distribution.

The RAS requires precise coordination to bring the two ships side-by-side to pass supplies and fuel.

“The ships closed to 60 metres and travelled at 12 knots to conduct the refueling,” Petty Officer Hirschausen said.

“It was essential for both ships to maintain consistent distance to avoid collision and ensure the hose line didn’t pull and spill fuel or damage the ships.”

Supply and Adelaide’s crew conducted the inaugural RAS slowly and methodically, which set the precedent for future fuel transfers.

“I’m proud of our sailors. They kept a level head the whole time, despite some minor challenges,” Petty Officer Hirschausen said.

In addition to over 600,000 liters of fuel, the RAS included 16 vertical replenishment loads of humanitarian and disaster relief stores via MRH-90 Taipan helicopter and a further 30 pallets of fresh food and supplies winched onto Adelaide’s landing craft.

Adelaide’s navigator, Lieutenant Commander John Miller, said Supply’s arrival on Operation Tonga Assist 2022 was much anticipated.

“Supply is a critical Navy capability that allows Australian and allied ships to extend their time at sea without the need to visit a port,” Lieutenant Commander John Miller said.

“The replenishment today ensures Adelaide can stay on station for as long as required to support the Government of Tonga.”

Supply commissioned in April 2021 and is one of the Royal Australian Navy’s two auxiliary oiler replenishment ships.

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