UK Naval/Commercial Tanker Interaction
Replenishment at sea (RAS) operations were recently completed between a UK-owned handysized tanker and a unit of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). The trials saw fuel exchanged in both directions with the ships under way, and were conducted off the south coast of England by James Fisher Tankships’ 35,200dwt product carrier Raleigh Fisher and the 32,000dwt RFA fleet tanker Tideforce.
Underway RAS is fundamental to naval logistics, but is a rare event between merchant ships and RFA vessels, and is then usually accomplished using the astern method of cargo transference. In the latest exercise, the exchanges were carried out in abeam mode with the ships manoeuvring close together while sailing at speed.