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    Simultaneous VERTREP, CONREP: IKE's Supply Department Replenished

    Ike Conducts Operations in the Atlantic

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Kaleb Sarten | 200129-N-AY174-1209 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Jan. 29, 2020) An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to...... read more read more



    Story by Seaman Ashley Lowe 

    USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)   

    For the first time since 2016, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) completed a replenishment at sea (RAS) with simultaneous vertical replenishment (VERTREP) and connected replenishment (CONREP).

    Ike received several hundred pallets of food, mail, orders for individual divisions, parts and equipment. An additional 250-man working party made up of Sailors from every department was formed to meet the manning requirements for the evolution.

    For weeks, Ike’s leaders have been coordinating the complex RAS. Although it impacts every department, Ike’s supply department bears a heavy workload before, during and after the evolution.

    The main drivers in the planning process are supply, operations, and Carrier Strike Group TEN officers, who coordinate with the combat logistics officer on shore to schedule a date and timeline for the RAS.
    Supply divisions use their consistently updated inventories to determine what needs to be ordered.

    Before there is a need for more food on board, Master Chief Rodrick Frierson, leading chief petty officer of supply department’s S-2 division, and Culinary Specialist 1st Class Howard Fields take approximately two weeks to make a list of what they need to order.

    “We have to decide how many people we have aboard and calculate it with our two-week menu cycle,” said Frierson. “There are hundreds of line items. CS1 Fields and I actually go line-by-line to figure out exactly what we need to order.”

    Meanwhile, in supply department’s S-6 division, which covers aviation parts, Lt. Bryan Pace, aviation support officer and S-6 division officer, coordinates the daily transport of parts on and off the ship by carrier on-board delivery (COD) with supply department’s Principal Assistant for Logistics, Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Shiver. Nonetheless, sometimes the parts that need to be swapped are just too big to be transported by COD, so they are ordered to be delivered via VERTREP or CONREP.

    “Coordinating the parts is pretty simple,” said Pace.

    If the coordination begins too late, all the supplies might not get ordered, but if it takes too long, the fresh fruits and vegetables (FF&V) could go bad on the supply ship.

    “It’s the food order and making sure we hit it on time so that we don’t get rotten food on board,” said Pace. “What’s the point of getting FF&V if they’re bad. That’s not going to make anybody happy.”

    For the RAS on Jan. 29, the supply ship USNS Robert E. Peary (T-AKE 5) delivered the supplies to Ike as one stop on their route. T-AKE class supply ships have the capacity for thousands of stores, but they carry enough to replenish more than one ship.

    As the scheduled date approaches, the supply department prepares by planning how best to receive stores, strike them down and get them below decks safely and efficiently, as well as beginning the coordination between Ike’s internal departments.

    There is an Ike instruction in the Temporarily Assigned Person’s List that has a matrix for how many Sailors are needed to man the RAS, according to the number of pallets we receive, and how many Sailors each department is expected to provide.

    “I’m responsible for calculating and organizing the working parties,” said Master Chief Logistics Specialist Lashaundra Sapp, Ike’s supply department leading chief petty officer (DLCPO). “Then I communicate it to the other DLCPOs at our daily meetings. It is their responsibility to assign Sailors in accordance with the requirement.”

    When the plan is fully developed there is a brief, where everyone involved comes together to verify that they all know step-by-step what will happen and what expectations they are expected to meet.

    “Things start lining up,” said Shiver. “Air department moves aircraft to make space in the hangar bay, while aviation intermediate maintenance division (AIMD), auxiliary, and weapons make sure the forklifts are ready to go. Before sunrise the bridge team gets manned for the rendezvous, the ‘Dusty Dogs’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC-7) set up for flight operations and deck takes station to send lines over.”

    Communication and coordination don’t stop when the evolution begins. The bridge, hangar bay and the flight deck were all dedicated to completing the RAS safely and efficiently.

    The bridge team kept the ship on course and in line with Peary, and ensured the winds over the flight deck were the right speed for the helicopter to drop supplies in the correct location.

    The supply officer counts pallets from the bridge to estimate how many pallets have been received and how much longer it will take.

    Supply department’s principal assistants are the main coordinators. They ensure all the teams are on the same page and working together as challenges arise to keep the event moving forward and smoothly.
    “It’s a whole team evolution,” said Pace.

    In the hangar bay, the 250-man working party moved supplies, AIMD drove the forklifts and deck managed the lines.

    On the flight deck, weapons department’s G-3 division drove the forklifts, HSC-7 manned the vertical lifts, and S-6’s entire division moved the supplies.

    “You get tired,” said Pace. “For example, Sailors from engineering may wonder why they are in the hangar bay helping with a RAS when they have a huge workload too. But, they’re helping us out because it’s a huge team evolution. Nothing operates by itsself. You have to phone a friend and say, ‘Hey, we need your help’. That’s why the Jan 29 RAS was successful.”

    With so many moving pieces and people involved in a space filled with expensive equipment, heavy machinery and inexperienced Sailors, safety was a main concern.

    “VERTREPs and CONREPs are dangerous events on their own and to do them at the same time is even riskier,” said Shiver. “The chance of having an accident is extremely high. On the other hand, when we conduct a RAS, we are not launching and recovering aircraft. The faster we can complete it, the quicker we can restart flight operations. Simultaneous replenishments allow us to stay at sea to receive our supplies and get back to the mission.”

    One of the risks of such a large event is that some Sailors stay awake after an entire night’s work and put in extra hours to meet manning requirements.

    “I was watching for fatigued Sailors to ensure they were taking breaks as necessary and that they were not in the way of the forklifts,” said Sapp, who was a safety observer stationed in the hangar bay.

    Sometimes a person with a point of view away from the action can see something about to happen that’s outside the vision of the Sailors completing the task.

    “You have to grab the handle on their float coat and yank them back if you see something about to happen that’s not safe,” said Pace, who was a safety observer stationed on the flight deck. “That’s what it’s there for. Conducting a RAS looks simple when it’s done, but all the behind scenes stuff comes afterward. That’s what goes unnoticed.”

    The sorting, organizing and restocking shelves continues to keep supply busy even after the other departments go back to their normal workloads.

    “During the VERTREP paper flies everywhere,” said Pace. “It comes off the boxes and afterward, you just have to sit down and do some research to determine what it is until you can tie it to an outstanding document. It’s a lot of work.”

    Stowing the food is a lot of work too. A quality assurance team checks expiration dates, the color of fresh fruits and vegetables (FF&V), by the time the last of the frozen food arrives at the storerooms they verify that it’s still frozen. Preventative medicine technicians from medical department inspect it too for bugs or any type of infestation.

    “The RAS gave us a few more weeks of FF&V,” said Pace. “Some of it will die off sooner and some will last longer. Often when there are food shortages Sailors blame S-2, but no one wants to go to canned fruit, fruit salad and pudding. If we don’t get these RASs on a regular basis the whole crew is affected.”

    According to Frierson, the RAS was a success.

    “We had no issues,” said Frierson. “Nobody passed out. Nothing was damaged. I count that as a very successful operation. The crew did a great job with that RAS.”

    A lot of hard work goes into conducting a RAS, and it’s a dangerous job with lots of moving parts.

    “Coordination, planning and effective communication, both within and across departments, is the essential element in the successful completion of any complex event,” said Cmdr. Andrew Henwood, Ike’s supply officer. “For an undertaking as large as a 600-pallet at-sea replenishment, it takes the entire ship to come together in order to accomplish the mission. Ike, as a whole, learned a great deal from this experience and we will build upon it as these events become more commonplace in the future.”



    Date Taken: 01.29.2020
    Date Posted: 05.11.2020 03:14
    Story ID: 369677
    Location: ATLANTIC OCEAN

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