Photo Information

The USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and the USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193) sail parallel with each other in order to conduct a resupply at sea while underway, May 02, 2013. The 26th MEU is deployed to the 5th Fleet area of operations aboard the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group. The 26th MEU operates continuously across the globe, providing the president and unified combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, sea-based quick reaction force. The MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response and limited contingency operations.

Photo by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels

The 26th MEU resupplies at sea

2 May 2013 | Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines and sailors assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, as well as sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), conducted a resupply at sea aboard the USS Kearsarge, while underway, May 2, 2013.

“The ship conducts a RAS whenever we run out of anything we need, usually twice a month,” said Cpl. Justin A. Rudisill, a Gettysburg, Pa., native, and combat cargo Marine assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. “When we do a RAS we get anything ranging from food and supplies to mail and fuel for the ship.”

A resupply at sea helps the 26th MEU and the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group stay expeditionary, prolonging the time the ships can stay out at sea.

“Whenever we do a RAS, it prevents us from having to pull into a port to get what we need,” said Rudisill. “The supply ship with us right now is attached to Fifth Fleet and it gets the supplies we need at a port, then meets us out here in the ocean. Once we link up, the two ships pull up to each other side-by-side and send lines to each across. After they connect they start pumping fuel and [aviation fuel] to our ship.”

With more than three hundred pallets to be transferred, Rudisill said they use the vertical replenishment method in order to quickly get the supplies from one ship to another.

“Today we are using two (MH-60S Seahawk) helicopters to transfer net loads that get attached to the birds and then they airlift them over,” said Rudisill.

Controlling the shipment once it reaches the ship is the role of the combat cargo Marines. Combat cargo has Marines representing each element of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force, taken away from their primary military occupational specialty to help fulfill a crucial role.

“In this instance, the job of combat cargo is to release the hooks that connect the net loads with the helicopter,” said Rudisill. “Once the pallets are in place and prepared, we use forklifts and pallet jacks to move them to the elevator to take them to their staging area.

Aside from replenishing the stock in the local ship store or chow hall, the pallets contain what can be best described as morale boosters for the Marines and sailors. Rudisill said on this RAS alone, the ship will be receiving around 100 pallets of mail which is approximately 26,000 pounds.

“The Marines and sailors here are separated from their wives, girlfriends or loved ones; mail is probably one of the biggest moral boosters for them,” said Sgt. Christopher J. Whidmann, an Ewa Beach, Hawaii, native, and combat cargo platoon sergeant and noncommissioned officer in charge. “Care packages give us a way to feel connected to our friends and families back home. Everyone gets excited when they receive it and open it up to see what is inside.”