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TAURUS 09 Ships Go Shopping!

TAURUS 09 Ships Go Shopping!
TAURUS 09 Ships Go Shopping!
TAURUS 09 Ships Go Shopping!

When a warship requires stores, provisions or ammunition they can hardly place an internet shopping order with a supermarket.  So the TAURUS 09 ships have been embarking on a programme of Replenishments At Sea (RAS) and yesterday HMS Bulwark conducted its first RAS of the deployment, providing some spectacular viewing for those on the sidelines. 

As the name suggests, this is a process that ensures ships are able to keep food stores, fuel and other store levels topped up.  To assist the Royal Navy, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) provides global logistical support to the Royal Navy wherever it operates.  RFA Fort Austin is a stores vessel, which means that she is able to carry a vast amount of food stores, ammunition and even helicopters and she was tasked with providing Bulwark with the stores on her wishlist.

To transfer these stores, two very different methods are utilised.  The first method is a heavy jackstay.  This means that lines and wires are attached between the ships in order to transfer the stores with a pulley. The second method used is a vertical replenishment (VERTREP).  The method uses a helicopter to transfer loads between the ships by use of cargo nets.  Irrespective of the method a ship’s forklift truck picks up the pallets and transfers them to Bulwark’s vehicle deck; there the load is broken down further and distributed around the ship. 

So thanks to the men and women of RFA Fort Austin and the Merlin Helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron HMS Bulwark has all she needs for the moment.  That said she will need some fuel before long…..but that’s another story - come back for an update on how the Royal Navy finds a fuel pump at sea!