Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Linday Preston // Staff Writer
Sailors aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) come together each week to successfully bring on fuel, ammunition, cargo and mail through a difficult but critical evolution called a replenishment-at-sea.
Conducting a RAS allows the ship to continue its mission indefinitely without pulling into port.
“We prepare for the RAS 48 hours prior to the scheduled date,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Elisha Chastain. “This evolution is what we like to call coordinated chaos and a lot of strategic planning and preparation go into conducting a successful RAS. It takes everyone in the deck department to man three fueling stations and four cargo receiving stations. Everyone must have their head in the game and make sure they are aware of their surroundings.”
As Truman pulls along side a dry cargo and ammunition ship (T-AKE) and a fleet replenishment oiler (T-AO), Sailors from various departments man their stations ready for the RAS to begin.
“The sound of the shot line, once fired to the other ship, announces the beginning of the RAS,” said Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Amelia Guzman. “This step is the most important because without the other ship receiving the shot line, we would not be able to hook up lines for us to receive fuel and cargo. Nothing can happen until that line is shot and I love being the one who is responsible for that.”
Each station plays a vital role in swiftly transporting ammunition, cargo and mail to their proper locations.
“When weapons are loaded on to the ship they take priority,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Jeffery Sirois. “It is important for us to quickly transport bombs from the flight deck, to the hangar bay then down to the magazines and it takes all of weapons department to accomplish that.”
After all of the ammunition is stored, mail begins to flood Hangar Bay 3 and is sorted into different departments. Truman receives an average of 14,000 pounds of mail each RAS so organization is very important to ensure Sailors receive their packages.
“Mail has a great impact on morale throughout the entire ship,” said Chief Logistics Specialist Adrian Galang. “Because it takes a lot to sort mail in a timely manner, Sailors should be mindful of the address they provide for their loved ones. Be sure to include department, division and box number. Let their loved ones know to not send liquids as these products can ruin care packages and make them unsalvageable.”
Because so many Sailors move throughout the hangar bay to transport mail and other goods throughout the ship, Security stands watch to ensure personnel not involved stand clear.
“We secure the hatches in the hangar bay and control traffic to guarantee things go smoothly and safely,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Aaron Stehle. “Most Sailors who are not involved in the RAS [may] not pay attention and could possibly put themselves in harms way.”
To help ensure the safety of all personnel involved, Sailors from the Safety department also stand by to make sure all precautions are taken and Sailors are wearing the proper personal protective equipment.
“We are there to supervise the overall evolution and take the proper precautions in case any mishaps were to happen,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Malik Leslie. “We want to promote awareness and safety and make sure everyone conducts their part properly.”
If an emergency or mishap does occur, Sailors from Medical department are ready to react at a moment’s notice.
“We are there in case a casualty happens,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Marcus Reyes. “We can quickly assess the patient and treat any injuries. To help prevent injuries, Sailors must remain vigilant, do their part and don’t skip any steps. Anytime a Sailor becomes complacent, the evolution begins to become more dangerous and increase the possibility of an actual casualty occurring.”
A complex evolution such as a replenishment-at-sea calls for teamwork, vigilance and determination. When Truman Sailors come together to conduct a RAS in a swift and timely manner, the ship is able to carry out its mission. The safety of all personnel takes top priority and it is through coordinate chaos that a successful replenishment-at-sea occurs.