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USNS Arctic Keeps the Fleet Combat Ready

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050302-04
Release Date: 3/2/2005 2:01:00 AM

By Journalist 3rd Class Joseph Burgess, Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

ABOARD USNS ARCTIC, At Sea (NNS) -- USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), currently deployed with the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Strike Group in the Persian Gulf, completed simultaneous underway replenishments with Truman and USS Monterey (CG 61) Feb. 26.

Arctic is a high speed, 754-foot, fast combat support ship that can carry 7 million gallons of fuel oil, 750 tons of food and 2,150 tons of ammunition, all needed to keep the fleet running effectively and combat ready.

Arctic has the speed to keep up with and supply the fast warships of carrier strike groups. Not only can Arctic move through the water quickly, but she can offload fuel and supplies on either side, making her capable of resupplying two ships simultaneously.

"This has been a very busy trip so far. We've done 118 UNREPs (Underway Replenishments) since we left in October," said Chief Mate Jim White of Suffolk, Va., the civilian equivalent of a Navy executive officer.

"We'll be here until the middle or end of April supplying U.S. as well as coalition Navy ships," he added. "Arctic is one of three ships supplying 5th Fleet. We're here to make the Navy's job easier."

The Navy began transferring its supply ships to Military Sealift Command to be manned with civilians in the 1970s, according to White.

"This ship has a very valuable mission, by it being transferred from the Navy to the Merchant Fleet, we have freed up over 400 Sailors from this ship to go to other duties," said White.

Arctic routinely heads into various ports in the area to onload pallets of mail, food, ammunition, parts and other supplies needed to support U.S. and coalition ships at sea.

"Arctic is open 24 hours a day; we've got what you need always ready," said civilian mariner Kevin Brown of Norfolk, Va. "The carriers love to see us, because we do the work of three ships. They only need to tie to us once."

Arctic is three types of ships rolled into one; she is an oiler, an ammunition ship and combat stores ship.

"This is the busiest ship I've ever been on," said Electronics Technician 1st Class Ethan Gurney of East Providence, R.I. "It's one-stop shopping. They come to us and we give them everything."

Arctic's crew of 176 civilian mariners and 60 Navy Sailors work at a hectic pace. The work is constant and fast-paced, but it is vital to the more than 7,500 Sailors of the carrier and her escorts.

Arctic has been deployed with the Harry S. Truman Strike Group in support of the global war on terrorism since October.

The Truman Strike Group is conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf and air operations in support of ground troops in Iraq. MSO is the most significant component to maritime counter-terrorism operations. Designed to detect, deter, and disrupt international terrorist organizations' use of the maritime environment, MSO also helps to set the conditions for security and stability. MSO includes maritime interception operations, engagement with regional militaries, protection of key infrastructure nodes, detecting and deterring piracy, and assisting mariners in distress.

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