Earlier in the text, we briefly touched upon the subject of replenishment. (Refer to chapter 8's strikedown section.) We learned there were various methods used to transfer missiles between two activities. These methods included UNREP-CONREP, VERTREPs, and pierside and lighter operations using a crane. The following areas of the text describe these methods in more detail. Essentially, we'll see how a transfer dolly (or container) is delivered to a combatant ship.
Experience and on-the-job training are the best teachers in replenishment operations. However, you should have a general understanding of how the different evolutions are performed. You must also realize that any replenishment is (1) a team effort and (2) a dangerous operation. All personnel involved in a replenishment must work quickly, quietly, and efficiently. Cooperation is the key ingredient.
Usually, Gunner's Mates are not directly responsible for setting up and running a replenishment. However, we maybe required to assist in preparing for a replenishment (e.g., as line handlers). The ship's Boatswain's Mates normally set up and run the transfer (CONREP) rigs between ships. They will also direct a helicopter (helo) during VERTREPs. At an NWS or other pier facility, civilian workers will operate and direct a crane. These personnel are trained to do this kind of work.
Our primary job is to move the missile between the replenishment station and the GMLS's strikedown area. A coordinated team effort by handling personnel is vital in this case. Transfer dollies or containers must be moved safely and smartly. That is important in contributing to the overall smoothness of the operation.
Any ammunition transfer is a hazardous evolution considering the quantity of high explosives involved. Protective gear, such as safety helmets (hardhats), steel-toed safety shoes, and lifejackets (at sea), must be worn. Rings, watches, cigarette lighters/matches, and so forth, must not be brought to a replenishment area. Be careful and cautious. Obey the roles and don't rush in your work.
Figure 2-56.-A Standard MR missile handling sequence; container to loading stand to dolly roll.
The most common underway-connected replenishment (UNREP-CONREP) method for missile transfer today is called STREAM. STREAM stands for standard tensioned replenishment alongside method. It is used to transfer a variety of missile, ammunition, and other cargo loads.
Figure 2-57 illustrates the basic arrangement for a STREAM rig. After the various lines are connected, the sending ship controls all operations. In the figure, the receiving ship is using a sliding pad eye. As the load reaches the receiving ship, the pad eye is lowered. This lowering places the transfer dolly on deck at the replenishment station. The sling of the dolly is disconnected from the cargo hook. The handling crew moves the dolly to the GMLS's strikedown area. Strikedown operations are performed and the empty dolly is returned to the replenishment station.
Additional information about CONREP procedures can be found in Naval Warfare Publication (NWP) 14, Replenishment at Sea. Another good (and available) source is Boatswain's Mate, volume 2, NAVEDTRA 12102
A vertical replenishment (VERTREP) is a very efficient and versatile replenishing method. A helicopter (helo) is used to transfer just about anything anywhere. Ammunition, cargo, and personnel loads can be transported between ships, ship-to-shore, or shore-to-ship. The only limiting factors to a helo operation are the range and capacity of the helo, and the weather. If the receiving ship is equipped with the proper (and required) lighting, nighttime operations are possible. However, most VERTREP ammunition transfers are conducted during daylight hours (for safety considerations).
During a missile transfer, the helo supports the load (a transfer dolly or container) on a cable/sling arrangement. As the helo approaches the receiving ship, the pilot maneuvers over the "drop" zone of the ship. A landing signalman (usually one of the ships BMs) guides the helo in with a series of hand signals. When the load is over the drop zone, the helo lowers and puts the dolly/container on deck A hookup man (another ships BM) runs to the load and disconnects the helo's hook. The helo rises and clears the area.
When the helo is at a safe distance from the ship, the missile-handling team assembles. The team moves
Figure 2-57.-Missile transfer by STREAM. 2-65
the dolly or container to the GMLS's strikedown area. On-load (or off-load) operations are performed and the dolly/container is returned to the drop zone. The helo comes back and picks up the load. One missile VERTREP has been completed.
VERTREP is probably the most popular replenishing method today. It has many advantages, such as speed and simplicity. However, from a Gunner's Mate's point of view, two words of caution. First, any heIo operation is considered a dangerous operation. Only the landing signalman and hookup man are permitted in the drop zone area while the helo is overhead. All other personnel must remain well clear of the area at this time. Foreign object damage (FOD) is another danger. Rotor blade suction will draw ANY loose objects into the engine of the helo with disastrous results. Do not wear hats (ball caps) and ensure all gear near the helo area is firmly secured.
The second word of caution applies to the load. Be sure to inspect the missile very carefully as soon as the helo clears the ship. Why do you think the helo area is called a "drop" zone? The missile can sustain some rather severe damage (shocks, bounces, jolts) as it "hits" the deck. If the damage is obvious (e.g., a cracked radome), reject the round before it is moved. Also, check the transfer dolly for damage caused by hard hits on deck. Look at the dolly wheels carefully.