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Saipan Crew Conquers New Task

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040512-05

Release Date: 5/12/2004 9:33:00 AM

By Journalist Seaman Sean Spratt, USS Saipan Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- When USS Saipan (LHA 2) is involved in a refueling at sea, the ship is normally on the receiving end, taking lines and wire from an oiler. But during the ship's most recent underway period in early April, Saipan's crew became the supplier during a refueling at sea with USS Underwood (FFG 36).

Even though it hadn't happened in five years, Saipan Sailors were well-prepared, having trained several times for this evolution.

"The ship and crew went through the in port (under way replenishment) ship qualification trials in preparing for this specific event," said Master Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW/AW) Godfrey M. Greene Jr., deck department's leading chief petty officer. "Saipan attained the qualification in February while training with USS Trenton (LPD 14)."

Although the crew uses the same standard equipment for receiving and sending fuel, the similarities end there.

"One immediate difference is the probe," said Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW/AW) Reginald Sherrod, 2nd division leading chief petty officer. "When we receive fuel, we get a double probe and, when we send fuel, we send a single probe."

As the ship sending the fuel, the primary responsibility for rig control rests squarely on the shoulders of Saipan's crew. This was quite a challenge for a group of Sailors performing this mission for the first time. Their primary concern was the safety of ship and personnel, as well as controlling the tension span wire and saddle whips that support the fuel hose and probe.

"Prior to getting under way, we had a NAVSEA [Naval Sea Systems Command] representative who assisted deck and engineering departments in training, as well as assisting in fine-tuning the equipment," said Sherrod. "He was also there to train our winch watchers and winch operators to make sure they were operating equipment in accordance with operating instructions."

Greene complimented deck department for stepping up to the challenge and excelling at the new task. He also mentioned it took the help of the engineering department to make this complex event a success.

"They all did a superb job at completing the task," said Greene. "We are gearing ourselves to continue to do this evolution more in the future."

Saipan is preparing to deploy as the centerpiece of the Saipan Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) later this year. As the largest ship in the group, Saipan may be called upon to perform this mission during her deployment, replenishing the other surface combatants that make up the ESG.

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