Friday, November 28, 2008
The guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) and the embarked Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42 "Proud Warriors" provided logistical assistance to the Military Sealift Command fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168). Vella Gulf responded to Catawba to conduct a vertical replenishment (VERTREP) after high seas prevented Catawba from conducting a scheduled replenishment at sea (RAS) with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-ATO 203). Pallets containing mail and repair parts intended for Catawba were transferred to Vella Gulf during a RAS on Nov. 11. Those pallets were then flown to Catawba on Nov. 12 using HSL 42's SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopters. HSL 42 then flew seven more pallets of food and repair parts from Laramie to Catawba Nov. 13. "Laramie arrived two days ago to provide underway replenishment but was unable to pass any stores to Catawba," said Vella Gulf's Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Genung. "After realizing the sea state was not going to change, we conducted a VERTREP from Laramie to Catawba, which the ship is capable of doing despite the relatively heavy seas." "The first day, Catawba received mail and some repair parts," continued Genung. "[The following day], the ship received food and other stores. Since Catawba will be with us through the end of the month, it was important the ship received the materials it needed."
USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168)Vertical replenishments are not a typical mission for HSL 42. "We practice VERTREPs, however it's not something we do a lot," said Lt. Cmdr. Matt Bradshaw, an officer assigned to HSL 42. "The reason is, our aircraft are a lot heavier than the SH-60S you normally see doing VERTREP due to the tactical stuff we carry. Our aircraft are a much lighter version of the SH-60B. With something small like this replenishment, it's pretty easy." Vella Gulf Sailors were happy to help another ship and grateful for the experience gained. "It was a pretty good experience," said Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Jason Farris. "It's not a ship that we would normally VERTREP to, and being as small as it is, it's not a ship that you would see out to sea for a long period of time. A lot of the guys aboard, when we were flying over there, looked really happy to see that they were getting some groceries. So, it was nice." Vella Gulf is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO). MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.