ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) — USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) completed its first replenishment-at-sea of its first overseas deployment, June 4.
The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier received 1.2 million gallons of fuel from the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO 195) and approximately 32,000 pounds of dry and frozen food, repair parts and mail from the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2) during the four-hour operation.
A replenishment-at-sea consists of either a connected replenishment (CONREP), which involves fuel and cargo transmission via hoses and wires, or a vertical replenishment (VERTREP), which relies on helicopters to transmit web-strapped pallets from one vessel to the other. George H.W. Bush performed both types simultaneously during the operation, employing two Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9 MH-60S Sea Hawks from Sacagawea for the VERTREP.
High above the flight deck in an observation room known as Primary Flight Control, Logistics Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Shoshana Chowdhoury from the ship’s Supply Department, watched closely to ensure an accurate count of each pallet lowered on the flight deck. She maintained a real-time log to assist the ship’s Principal Assistant for Logistics (PAL), who keeps track of the operation and status of the helicopters — each hovering in a precisely timed circle between the ships.
The ship departed Portsmouth, England, May 31 after completing its first liberty port call. Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Jilienne Commerford said it is normally not necessary to load cargo so soon after a port call but since the ship was anchored at sea, food supplies needed to be replenished. She said this VERTREP of 217 pallets was smaller than the usual 400-600 pallet shipments that can be expected in the future, since this is the first time the operation has occurred during the deployment.
“This is a test run to see how it goes,” she said as she waited for the loaded pallets to be transported from the flight deck to hangar bay via one of the ship’s elevators. Commerford, who started off her Navy career as a Postal Clerk, began to smile when she heard that the VERTREP may contain postmarked packages.
“I’m just excited that we might get mail,” she said, adding that in the future most mail will be delivered during replenishment-at-sea.
George H.W. Bush left its homeport of Norfolk, Va., May 11, and entered the 6th Fleet area of responsibility, May 17.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas Hall/Released