Royal Navy rendezvous

Published on LEUT Anthea Baczkowski (author), ABIS Jake Badior (writer)

Leading Seaman Marine Technician Joel Minichiello in the Cargo Control Room onboard HMAS Success during a Replenishment at Sea with HMS Kent while in the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU.  (photo: Able Seaman Jake Badior)
Leading Seaman Marine Technician Joel Minichiello in the Cargo Control Room onboard HMAS Success during a Replenishment at Sea with HMS Kent while in the Middle East Region as part of Operation MANITOU.

Success is deployed as part of Operation MANITOU, providing logistical support for coalition navy ships as part of Combined Task Force 53. This is only the second time the Royal Australian Navy replenishment ship has deployed to the area. Success was deployed to the Gulf of Aden in 1991, 24 years ago.

Having a logistic support ship in the region enables the other ships on patrol to stay at sea for longer periods, by eliminating the need for them to return to port for food, stores, fuel and other supplies. This was Success’ third replenishment evolution.

The Royal Australian Navy shares many traditions with the Royal Navy and the navies share strong and enduring working relationship. Evolutions like these help to maintain and further strengthen communication and interoperability.

Leading Seaman Marine Technician Joel Minichiello, from Randwick in Sydney, operates in the Cargo Control Room to drive the fuelling rig across from Success to the receiving ship.

He posted onto the battle tanker in March 2012 and is now training to be the supervisor of the rig. His role involves guiding the probe into the bell mouth of the receiving ship, monitoring the rig tension and pressure for the entirety of the fuelling evolution and adjusting the slack in the hose to ensure everything works efficiently.

Leading Seaman Minichiello has moved from working in the engine room during refuelling and said it was nice to see what was actually happening above the water.

"Working with the Royal Navy, is always a bit more relaxed and a good opportunity for a laugh," Leading Seaman Minichiello said.

As is customary during a sea replenishment, the ships play music over loud speakers. With typical Aussie humour, Success’ ship’s company selected marching music, the Beatles and other British bands from the 1960s through to the modern day.

The evolution lasted for approximately one hour and Success transferred almost 150 cubic metres of fuel to the Duke Class, Type 23 frigate. Commanding Officer HMS Kent, Commander Andrew Block, described the exchange as very smart, professional and entertaining.

"It was by far the most enjoyable replenishment we have had in months," he said on completion.

Success is deployed until May and has many rendezvous opportunities various nations within the region as part of the Combined Maritime Forces. The ships is also contributing to anti-terrorism and anti-smuggling operations while in the Middle East through boarding operations but providing logistics support to coalition ships remains her primary tasking.