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    Civilian mariner, military team keep 7th Fleet supplied

    AT SEA

    10.26.2014

    Courtesy Story

    USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73)

    By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Loni Lopez, USS George Washington Public Affairs

    AT SEA– The Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) and embarked Island Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 continue to maintain mission readiness for U.S. Navy surface combatants at sea in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

    In their primary mission role, Washington Chambers and HSC-25 provide fleet underway replenishment to ships.

    “We are tasked to provide logistics support for any U.S. ship within the 7th Fleet area of responsibility,” said Capt. Guy Ziccardi, the civil service master of Washington Chambers. “Our mission is critical to the ships who conduct operations here. We provide stores, spare parts and potable water—anything that the ships may need.”

    HSC-25, a forward-deployed squadron operating from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, embarked with Washington Chambers in May. Its crew of 13 pilots, air crewman, maintainers and two MH-60S Seahawk helicopters work to support the ship’s mission through vertical replenishment (VERTREP).

    “Our primary objective with Washington Chambers is to support the logistics process with vertical replenishment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Preston Rack, the officer in charge of HSC-25. “Together we are able to provide critical items that are essential for the quality of life and efficient operation of ships.”

    Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Maricel Reyes works within the squadron to maintain the administrative aspects of the mission.

    “Our motto is that ‘you can’t fly without supply’,” said Reyes. “My main responsibility to the mission is providing logistics support to sufficiently accommodate everyone. Without the proper management and coordination, we may not have the means to perform the missions that are required to keep the 7th Fleet supplied.”

    Preparation and coordination begin long in advance of the scheduled replenishment-at-sea (RAS).

    “A great deal of planning and management goes into orchestrating RAS events,” said Naval Aircrewman 1st Class Marcus Monreal, Jr., from San Antonio, Texas. “There’s extensive communication required so that everything runs smoothly, that we rendezvous at the correct position, that we are able to maneuver safely during the replenishment and make sure we supply our customers with the right product.”

    HSC-25 also requires a great deal of organization into the planning for the VERTREP.

    “When we find out what the flight schedule is like, we ensure teams are broken down for proper manning on the flight deck,” said Reyes. “We identify who will be assigned to the various positions on the flight deck and when they will operate so that we can alternate the teams so that everyone is taken care of during the evolution. Safety is the most important aspect in making sure replenishment is a success.”

    Several hundred tons of supplies and ammunition is moved during each month for ships across the 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

    “Between just October and November we were scheduled more than 40 replenishments for this area of responsibility,” said Ziccardi. “It just simulates how imperative logistics are to mission readiness.”

    Washington Chambers and embarked Island Knights are unique in that the pair combines both civilian and military forces.

    “I was unsure how the crew would react to having military forces aboard,” said Reyes. “But we operate well because we support each other as one team to accomplish the overall mission.”

    Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Kenneth Morris, from Long Island, N.Y., also attributes success to working together to complete replenishment.

    “It’s a very unique experience in that we are embarked on a civilian ship that works to aid the U.S. military,” said Morris. “The culture, structure and organization within the ship is different as compared to a naval ship but the dynamic has worked well. It’s been a valuable experience that has allowed us to be proficient in our ability to provide vertical replenishment services and given us the opportunity to assist in the operational readiness of the 7th Fleet.”

    The 7th Fleet AOR covers more than 48 million square miles and spans from west of the international dateline to the western coast of India. Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, Jr., Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, is responsible for more than 45,000 Sailors, 100 ships and submarines, and more than 200 aircraft in the largest naval area of responsibility.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.26.2014
    Date Posted: 10.26.2014 04:52
    Story ID: 146072
    Location: AT SEA

    Web Views: 50
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    Civilian mariner, military team keep 7th Fleet supplied