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Oiler Tippecanoe Pumps Aid Into Tsunami Relief Efforts

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050124-17
Release Date: 1/25/2005 1:48:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class Paul G. Scherman, Commander, Task Force 73 Public Affairs

ABOARD USNS TIPPECANOE, At Sea (NNS) -- Delivering fuel is its speciality, but with relief supplies needed to support Operation Unified Assistance in January, the deck of fleet replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199) has become a staging platform for aid.

While providing fuel to keep ships and aircraft operating in the Indian Ocean topped off, Tippecanoe has been acting as a conduit for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) materials, repeatedly traversing miles of ocean between Singapore and Sumatra to help victims of the tsunami that wracked the area Dec. 26.

In one recent five-day period, Tippecanoe delivered more than 120,000 barrels of fuel and more than 700 pallets of HADR materials.

"Normally we carry some stores, but not this many," said Military Sealift Command (MSC) Able Seaman Stephen Drouvin from Sault Saint Marie, Mich.

In one day alone, while transferring more than 60,000 barrels of fuel, Tippecanoe passed more than 450 pallets of HADR material to USNS Ranier (T-AOE 7), USS Abraham Lincoln's (CVN 72) station replenishment ship.

"It's amazing to pack that much on a ship with no cargo holds," said Cargo Mate Steve Nordgren from Olongapo, Philippines. "We're not really designed to carry that much stuff."

For an oiler, which is not designed for huge amounts of cargo, this is "a pretty remarkable feat," said Capt. Robert B. Seabrook, Tippecanoe's master. "But it has been an amazing opportunity to help people."

The crew agreed.

"I called my wife and told her what we were doing," said Chief Mate Tom Petro from Bangkok, Thailand. "She was ecstatic we could help."

"Many of the crew serving on board live in this area," Seabrook pointed out, "so we feel a connection to the people and have a vested interest."

Military Sealift Command Fleet Replenishment Oilers such as Tippecanoe provide underway replenishment of petroleum products for Navy ships and aircraft at sea. The ship has a crew of 77 civilian mariners and four active-duty Sailors. Tippecanoe is currently assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet Logistics Force (Commander, Task Force 73).

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