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News | Sept. 14, 2016

From Ship to Ship: Replenishment at Sea

By Cpl. Samantha Villarreal USS BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD 6), USPACOM

AT SEA -- Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group participated in a replenishment at sea in the Pacific Ocean, Sept. 12, 2016.

A RAS is an aerial resupply mission which moves food and essential supplies packaged on pallets from a Navy supply vessel to other underway ships via a rope suspended beneath a Navy MH-60S Seahawk. The hours-long flight operations allow Marines and Sailors to work side by side to replenish the ship’s stores before continuing with the BHR ESG’s fall patrol of the Asia-Pacific region.

“Through vertical replenishment using aircraft, supplies are delivered onto the flight deck,” said Sgt. Benjamin Seidle, an avionics technician with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Reinforced), the Aviation Combat Element for the 31st MEU.

The RAS also allows the ships of the BHR ESG to off-load used supplies, such as non-biodegradable waste.

“Whatever needs to be sent out is removed from ship using external hooks attached to the aircraft,” Seidle said.

Once supplies are delivered to the flight deck, they are lowered via an aircraft elevator for Marines and Sailors below to un-package, sort and deliver necessities across the ship and into freezers for future use.

For the Marines, a hard day’s work moving boxes and equipment is worth the reward, according to Lance Cpl. Bjorn Larson, a motor transport mechanic with Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, the 31st MEU’s Ground Combat Element.

“The RAS is about getting the supplies you need on ship – the bonus is you get cookies and brownies, too,” Larson said.

The 31st MEU is the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and combines air-ground logistics into a single team capable of addressing a range of military operations in the Asia-Pacific region – from force protection and maritime security to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in cooperation with host countries and partner militaries.

Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the U.S. Pacific Command website.