Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4) conducted a replenishment-at-sea (RAS) with U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) in the Philippine Sea, April 17.
During the replenishment, Richard E. Byrd transferred fuel and more than 100 pallets of provisions.
“Our ability to sustain the fleet anywhere at any time is vital to our overall mission here in 7th Fleet,” said Navy Capt. Robert R. Williams, commander, MSC Far East. “On any given day, we are conducting replenishments like this with U.S., allied and partner ships throughout the region. This ensures our Sailors have the supplies and equipment they need to carry out the mission.”
While sailing alongside Blue Ridge, the cargo ship delivered the fuel and supplies simultaneously using fuel lines and an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12.
Richard E. Byrd Chief Mate Thomas Blatterman, an MSC civilian mariner, said experience and professionalism play an important role in a successful replenishment-at-sea. Blatterman acknowledged the inherent risk of the evolutions, but said safety is paramount.
“It’s what we’re here to do,” said Blatterman. “It’s an all-hands evolution, but we do it safely, professionally and efficiently so our receiving ship can take on the fuel, supplies and ammunition she needs to sustain at-sea operations.”
MSC operates more than 50 ships in the Indo-Pacific region at any given time, delivering essential supplies, fuel, cargo and equipment to warfighters throughout the region, both at sea and on shore.
“Our ability, as a Navy, to operate our ships at sea continuously and seamlessly is unique,” said Lt. Justin Shull, supply officer aboard Blue Ridge. “Our readiness, responsiveness and resiliency are in no small part attributable to our logistical capabilities that are enabled by an extensive fleet of supply ships operated by MSC.”
Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy, and as 7th Fleet command ship, is responsible for patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific Region. Since departing her forward-deployed homeport of Yokosuka in January, Blue Ridge has supported engagements with allies and partners during port visits in Okinawa, Korea and Thailand.
MSC Far East is responsible for the execution of strategic sealift missions throughout the Indo-Pacific region and serves as a direct link to MSC ships, providing maintenance oversight, logistics coordination and other needed services.
MSC operates approximately 125 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.