On 31 January 2012, the EUNAVFOR flagship ESPS PATIÑO conducted a Replenishment at Sea (RAS) with the NATO Flagship TGN GIRESUN watched by Russian observers before the exercise was repeated by the Russian Flagship Admiral Tributs with the Russian Fleet Tanker Pechenga with NATO and EU NAVFOR observers embarked.
During the morning, the EU NAVFOR and NATO ships demonstrated to several Russian observers on-board the two Flagships a RAS manoeuvre where the ships steer parallel courses only 40 – 50 metres apart while passing fuel between the ships. In the afternoon, the same challenging seamanship exercise was performed by the Russian Task Force units, this time watched by EU NAVFOR and NATO observers.
The exercise was coordinated to improve the interoperability among ships from different forces that operate in the Horn of Africa countering Somali pirates.
During the exercise, all observers had the opportunity not only to discuss this type of underway replenishment manoeuvres, but share their experience and views regarding the counter-piracy operations and the necessity for protecting World Food Programme shipping and the merchant shipping community in general. Following the exercise all those involved agreed that they were much better aware of the differences between the procedures which will greatly improve the support able to be offered between all the ships of the multi-National forces in the region.
World Maritime News Staff, February 3, 2012; Image: EU Navfor