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Enterprise Conducts First RAS in Two Years

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100423-12

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristin Baker, USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) conducted a replenishment-at-sea (RAS) April 23 with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) only four days after being redelivered to the fleet.

The fuel transfer was conducted in preparation for Enterprise's upcoming flight deck certification.

Taking on fuel with a RAS is faster than obtaining it in port, but it is much more dangerous. Having the ability to safely conduct a RAS is a requirement for all ships.

The two ships involved in a RAS must be closer than 200 feet during the transfer. Keeping the carrier on a straight course while being that close to another ship is difficult in and of itself due to the hydrodynamic effect on the vessels, but adding the transferring of fuel increases the risk factor.

"The system hasn't been run in two years, and the ship is 48 years old, so we have to be extremely cautious," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) Airman Michael A. Genera. "It went extremely well."

The two ships are attached by rigging lines and must carefully remain at identical speeds to ensure the fuel lines do not stretch or break.

"There must be two lines of tension in order to transfer," said Senior Chief Boatswain's Mate Sequincy Culver, leading chief petty officer for Enterprise's Deck Department. "Without the proper tension in place, Sailors lives and the ship could be put at risk."

At the completion of the RAS, Enterprise conducted an emergency breakaway drill and continued her independent steaming exercise.

The complex RAS was a major milestone for the Enterprise, which has spent the last two years in a shipyard undergoing maintenance. Capt. Ron Horton, Enterprise's commanding officer, who is scheduled to leave the ship soon, spoke to the crew after the RAS and reflected on the significance of the successful event.

"That was probably my last refueling on a Navy ship as the ship's captain," said Horton. "What a way to end it! You couldn't tell that the crew hadn't done this in a long time. It was like clockwork."

Nuclear-powered ships can stay at sea much longer than conventionally powered ships, but only if they are able to successfully complete underway replenishments, which provide the necessary consumable goods to keep the crew fed and the aircraft flying.

Enterprise is embarked on an independent steaming exercise prior to beginning flight deck certification and its work-up phase leading to its upcoming deployment.

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