Battling rolling waves and high winds a Royal Navy frigate has set a new record for carrying out a full restock of replenishments in just two days.
HMS Montrose undertook a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) of ammunition, stores, fuel as well as a vertical replenishment – meaning equipment was transferred by helicopter.
The whole operations took just two days in winds of 25 knots and three metre seas all the while the ships will have had to hold a straight course through the waves with roughly 50 metres between them.
Devonport based Montrose carried the operation with two other vessels, Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Fort Austin and the US Naval Ship Alan Shepard. The movement of goods is vital if Montrose is to continue her maritime security and counter piracy operations in the Gulf.
For such a complex job over 100 members of the ship’s company were involved in the setting up and carrying out the RAS. HMS Montrose’s 815 Naval Air Squadron Lynx Mk 8 was also used to ferry personnel and lighter stores back and forth between the RAS ships.
In all 33 pallets of stores were transferred with items including ammunition for the 4.5” gun, 60 bags of mail, 30 days worth of food for the 200-strong ship’s company and numerous other basic necessities such as toilet roll and rubbish tins.
The Seaman Specialists working the Aft Dump Area, the most dangerous place of the RAS, were Able Seamen Ben “Cookie” Cook, James “Smudge” Smith and Jade Short. In charge of them was Leading Seaman (Seaman Specialist) Craig “Buck” Taylor.
LS Taylor said: “They all battled through the waves, spray and darkness to bring the stores and mail on board safely, and were so sodden that their lifejackets automatically inflated.
“This is the best Dump Team I have worked with and the toughest RAS I’ve seen in a long time…let’s do it again!”
The Chief Boatswain’s Mate, Petty Officer (Seaman Specialist) James “Mac” McCafferty, said:
“I’m very proud of everyone who was involved. From my most junior ratings upwards they have all given it their all and made sure the mission was achieved safely.
“I haven’t been that drenched during a RAS for a long time.”
When the job was successfully over Commander James Parkin, Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, said:
“Having successfully accomplished the ‘grand slam’ of weapon firing six months ago, I’m inordinately proud of Team Montrose for achieving the seamanship and logistics equivalent in the past two days. I’m proud of the dozens of officers and ratings who battled hard against tough conditions to get the job done in such style.
“Many were damp, several were soaking, but none of them can ever be accused of being wet.”