Replenishment at sea is a complex endeavour, requiring close-quarters manoeuvring from ships in all manner of conditions. Limiting the time that ships are side-by-side is ideal for safety and operational effectiveness.
For the team on HMAS Sirius, one of Navy's tankers, efficient and safe replenishment is their daily challenge.
Commanding Officer Sirius Commander Darren Grogan said it was ideal for ships to be alongside Sirius for only the minimum amount of time required to complete the evolution.
“In a volatile sea state the motion of the sea can be unpredictable from the churn between the two vessels with a separation of 140 feet," he said.
A replentishment is initiated by the passing of gun line attached to a projectile fired from a rifle. Often projectiles become entangled in Sirius' gantry rigs causing significant delays and risking damage.
In an effort to alleviate this problem the ship's boatswains mates have created a target and their Commanding Officer has set a challenge to the rest of the fleet.
In true Australian style, Commander Grogan has promised a packet of Tim Tam biscuits to any ship that manages to get their gun line through the centre of the target.
The target was constructed by Able Seaman Boatswains Mate John Hoy (often referred as the ship’s MacGyver).
“With some rough guidance I came up with a design which is a light weight steel frame that is transportable and connects to existing guardrails," Able Seaman Hoy said.
“The target is strong and sturdy and built to survive the elements, and providing other ships something to aim at is a great idea and I’m sure they will enjoy the challenge, particularly if they win a pack of Tim Tams!”
Commander Grogan said he was looking forward to paying up in efforts to improve safety and prevent damage to equipment.
“With a number of replenishments set to take place during Sirius’ participation in the upcoming Exercise TALISMAN SABRE, the challenge is on!"
Sirius is a commercially built tanker with a capacity to hold approximately 35 million litres of fuel including a combination of F44 aviation fuel and F76 marine diesel oil. She was purchased in June 2004 and was modified to provide a ship to ship at sea refuelling capability. The modification included the installation of two stations with 31 metre high gantries at either side of the ship. To date Sirius has conducted 426 replenishments at sea with ships from multiple nations.