Vice Adm. Brewer visits unrep test site
By Lt. Cmdr. Richard Tschiegg, USN
On Dec. 19 Vice. Adm. David L. Brewer III, USN, Commander, Military Sealift Command, visited the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Underway Replenishment Test Site, or UTS, at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, Calif.
Vice Adm. Brewer was on hand at UTS to watch demonstrations for two projects that will expand the Navy's underway replenishment abilities. More than 30 underway replenishment, or unrep, ships are operated by MSC's Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force; these ships re-supply the U.S. Navy's combatant fleet at sea, delivering food, fuel, ammunition and spare parts.
First, Vice Adm. Brewer observed a test of the Heavy Underway Replenishment System, also known as HURS. During unreps of dry cargo or ammunition, a supply ship pulls alongside a receiving ship. As the ships sail parallel to each other, lines are shot from one ship to the other. The cargo moves from ship to ship across these lines. Using this process, the HURS system will enable unrep ships to transfer twice as much cargo at a faster rate of speed than the existing equipment.
Under the Navy's current unrep system, up to 5,700 pounds of cargo can travel from the supply ship to the receiving ship at a rate of nearly 900 feet per minute. With HURS, up to 12,000 pounds of cargo can travel nearly 2,000 feet per minute.
Another notable improvement to the unrep design is that the HURS system allows ships to conduct unreps while sailing 300 feet from each other - giving ships the safety of having an additional 100 feet of space between them.
The HURS design improvements are being incorporated into MSC's newest class of ships - the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo/ammunition ships. The first ship of this class, USNS Lewis and Clark, is scheduled to be delivered to MSC in May 2006.
Vice Adm. Brewer also witnessed a demonstration of a full-scale mock-up Vertical Launch System Rearming Device. This device will allow Navy ships to re-load missiles at sea. Currently, for example, when a combatant ship fires all of its surface-to-air missiles, she must return to port in order to reload. With the new VLS system, missile containers can be loaded aboard combatant ships during the unrep process. The rearming device will be maintained aboard supply ships. During an unrep the device would be transferred to the combatant ship where it would pick up used missile containers, load new ones and then return to the supply ship.
The new technology developed by UTS will increase MSC's ability to serve the fleet, ensuring that wherever and whenever supplies are needed, MSC will deliver.