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Ike Simulates UNREP in Preparation for Return to Sea

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050321-14
Release Date: 3/22/2005 2:02:00 AM

By Photographer's Mate Airman Christopher Molinari, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) simulated an underway replenishment (UNREP) March 18 with the Military Sealift Command ship USNS John Lenthall (T-AO 189) while pierside at Naval Station Norfolk.

The safe completion of this evolution proved once again that Ike warriors are fully trained for operations at sea, following a four-year major mid-life overhaul.

The last time Ike performed a real-life UNREP was in 2000, shortly before the ship's mid-life Refueling Complex Overhaul began at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard.

"We can expect to see an actual UNREP during Flight Deck Certification [later this month]," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Johnnie Sprawling, Deck Department, 1st Division leading petty officer.

UNREPs are a vital evolution to the success of any naval vessel. When Ike passes Sea Trials and is deemed fully operational, she could potentially have one or two UNREPS per week while at sea.

"We will bring on fuel, cargo and all types of supplies," said Sprawling.

An UNREP has the potential to be extremely hazardous; therefore, safety is paramount. All of the Sailors involved are trained to keep their attention levels high in order to avoid mishaps and to maintain operational readiness.

"Without proper training or significant emphasis on safety, it can be a very hazardous evolution," said Lt. j.g. Matthew Semple, 1st Division officer.

During Ike's first post-overhaul UNREPs, the carrier can expect to take on 1.2 million gallons of JP5 jet fuel. Completing an UNREP safely can be a time-consuming, but a mission-critical evolution.

"Performing an UNREP is usually a minimum of two-and-a-half hours in duration," said Sprawling. "It really just depends on how much there is to bring on."

Deck department is not solely responsible for a successful UNREP. Semple said the entire ship is involved, with Ike's operations department taking the lead and coordinating all other departments.

Navigation department also plays a vital role by setting a safe sail course in support of the commanding officer and the officer of the deck.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of an UNREP is ensuring the two ships stay level with each other and on the exact same course, according to Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class (SW) Jami McMurry of deck department, Ike's senior master helmsman.

"As a master helmsman, you must pay attention to the span lines (span lines are used to transfer the items from supply ships to Navy ships) that connect both ships," said McMurry. She said with all the supplies coming aboard the ship on the span lines, maintaining a steady course is very difficult. "You have to maintain your course within one half of a degree of accuracy."

Ike's warriors were able to experience virtually every aspect of an actual UNREP March 18, including managing the capstan pulls, while across the pier from Lenthall.

A capstan pull secures the span lines from both vessels. Initially, the lines are shot from one ship to another from a modified M-14 rifle. The lines are then hand-fed into the capstan pull. The heavy loads are then attached to the line and transferred from the supply ship.

With the successful completion of the simulated UNREP, Ike and her crew are ready to head out to sea for the first time in four years.

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