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Royal Navy trials using commercial tankers to sustain fleet

daftandbarmy

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Can we do this?

The Royal Navy has announced that they have been exploring the idea of NATO naval vessels using commercial tankers to supply fuel to warships “in times of crisis”.​


Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Tidesurge linked up with the civilian MT Maersk Peary in Lyme Bay to see whether oil could be practically transferred between the two vessels.

“Calling upon civilian oilers to sustain the fleet could prove crucial if the military tankers are unable to stock up on supplies by putting into port. The Royal Navy relied on extensive support from civilian tankers during the Falklands conflict 40 years ago – sustaining a task group 9,000 miles from the UK. But in more recent years, that support has not been needed, nor training practised.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary – whose ships support and supply Royal Navy warships on operations around the globe – joined forces with its American counterpart, US Military Sealift Command, who chartered the Peary for the trials. The resulting link-up in the Channel – known as a Replenishment at Sea or RAS in naval parlance – saw the refuelling rig from Tidesurge successfully sent across to the Peary where it hooked-up with its replenishment station.”



 

dimsum

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Can we do this?
Can we? Probably.

Should we? I don't know.

What if the commercial tankers are booked up by some other organization? What if the union/trade association/company doesn't want to risk its tankers by seconding them to the military on deployment? What if the Captain doesn't want to go?

I suspect that a commercial tanker would be used most of the time, not "just in time" for an operation. At that point, when is it just better to have our own?
 

rmc_wannabe

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Interoperability is always a good thing; especially knowing you can, in a pinch, draw what you need from somewhere else.

That said, having this become your SOP is not always a good plan. Like @dimsum stated, unless these commercial vessels are pressed into serving in the same manner as the ships we want them to support... You're going to have a bad time.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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Let's be clear here:

First, we are not talking about commercial tankers deploying with the Navy on regular ops, but being available for these types of refueling ops in cases of actual war or near war increased tempo ops, as was done for the Falkland war.

Second, we are not talking about commercial tankers refueling the fighting units. What is contemplated is the commercial tanker refueling the AOR away from the danger area so it makes a much faster turnaroud time than going back to harbour to reload. In essence it is doing, just outside the OPArea, what is known in the AOR world as a consolidation RAS*.

Finally, there is nothing new in commercial tankers refueling warships. It's been done in protected anchorages since the days of coal, and for fuel oil, it was done extensively (using the specifically developped method of astern refueling) for WWII Atlantic convoy ops.

*: For those who wouldn't know, here is the concept of consolidation RAS: Imagine you deploy a force with two (or more) AOR's in support. Assuming they are used roughly equally to refuel the shooters, they'll both get low at about the same time and will have to leave to resupply together, leaving the fleet with no support. Instead, when they get to the point where they carry, together, the equivalent of about 90% fuel for a single one, they carry out a consolidation RAS where the AOR with the lowest amount tops up the other one's main tanks to near full and simultaneously transfers as much of the dry cargo they can in the meantime (it is a long and tiring job - trust us). The now empty AOR then leaves to go and resupply, leving the now near full one to support the fleet. By the time it comes back from resupplying, the one that remained with the fleet is now near empty and buggers off to resupply. After that it becomes a rotation.
 

Kirkhill

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Can we? Probably.

Should we? I don't know.

What if the commercial tankers are booked up by some other organization? What if the union/trade association/company doesn't want to risk its tankers by seconding them to the military on deployment? What if the Captain doesn't want to go?

I suspect that a commercial tanker would be used most of the time, not "just in time" for an operation. At that point, when is it just better to have our own?

Nevermind ..... OGBD said what I was thinking about and said it better.
 

SupersonicMax

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Can we? Probably.

Should we? I don't know.

What if the commercial tankers are booked up by some other organization? What if the union/trade association/company doesn't want to risk its tankers by seconding them to the military on deployment? What if the Captain doesn't want to go?

I suspect that a commercial tanker would be used most of the time, not "just in time" for an operation. At that point, when is it just better to have our own?
It is possible set up a voluntary program, in which companies pledge x number of ships to a civil reserve fleet that when activated, the provider is obligated to support the armed forces, a bit like the US Civil Reserve Air Fleet. Voluntary program (with incentives) and when activated, the commitment becomes mandatory. This is part of why the US was able to move so much stuff during Desert Shield.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I doubt Canada could do that as we don't have a sizable merchant fleet or the economic clout to make it worthwhile to the shipping companies. We could get a tanker/AOR built overseas, lease it for 10 years with foreign crew and allow it to do some commercial jobs when not needed. Then sell or replace it in 10 years.
 

FJAG

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It is possible set up a voluntary program, in which companies pledge x number of ships to a civil reserve fleet that when activated, the provider is obligated to support the armed forces, a bit like the US Civil Reserve Air Fleet. Voluntary program (with incentives) and when activated, the commitment becomes mandatory. This is part of why the US was able to move so much stuff during Desert Shield.
I wish we were that forward leaning.

🍻
 

Grimey

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When I was a baby stoker in the late 80s/early 90s, we’d often get access to RN marine engineering branch journals. Being only 5-10 years post Falklands, there was a lot of detailed analysis in the journals as to what worked/didn’t work. For STUFT tankers that deployed south, a lot had bolted-on flight decks and Reverse Osmosis Desalination (ROD) plants.…all done by Plymouth/Portsmouth dockyard mateys in record time. Flash forward to 2000 or so and I’m getting my first real look around a CPF (CAL I think) while doing a diesel inspection. I was shocked to find flash evaporators and low pressure baby boilers to supply steam to the vaps. Both according to the crew were a maintenance nightmare. I think 6 (of 12) frigates left the yard with this combo while the rest (last 6?) had RODs.

With the Falklands being the first marine gas turbine war, there were a raft of articles on how crucial diesel fuel husbandry/quality control was. The Type 42s floated their gas on saltwater ballast, similar to the 280s after TRUMP.
 

Underway

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It is possible set up a voluntary program, in which companies pledge x number of ships to a civil reserve fleet that when activated, the provider is obligated to support the armed forces, a bit like the US Civil Reserve Air Fleet. Voluntary program (with incentives) and when activated, the commitment becomes mandatory. This is part of why the US was able to move so much stuff during Desert Shield.
Sure it's possible. Is it necessary though? We don't have enough ships that this would be a requirement.
 
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