Monday, May 11, 2015

All @ Sea! Photo of the Day 11 May 2015

Today's photo posting could be titled "Success Redux", as it again features Australian replenishment ship HMAS Success; I thought you might like to see what see looks like from a different angle!  Note that in this image she is still alongside John Lenthall (you can see the fuel hose at far left, connecting our two ships like an umbilical); this time we are seeing her in her entirety.

Success is of the same era as Lenthall; she was also built in the mid-1980s.  She is quite a bit smaller, though, which reflects the thinking that went into her design.  Australia had by then decommisioned their sole aircraft carrier (HMAS Melbourne, a former British flat-top) and had focused on a naval construction scheme based upon destroyer- and frigate-sized ships.  Lenthall, however, was built to support large aircraft carriers and amphibious warships in addition to "small boys". Given this difference in intended role, a smaller "oiler" could be built to supply Australia's warships, a sensible decision as long as a return to carrier-centered operations remained off the table.

Success, like all Australian auxilliary ships, is manned by RAN officers and ratings rather than the US (and UK) practice of having a separate organization within the Navy, manned by civilian Mariners.  This makes sense as well, since the RAN requires only a handful of replenishment vessels to support their forces, and a special command and manning structure for that purpose would be quite wasteful and superfluous.  The opposite is true of the USN and RN; the size of these nations' fleets--and especially their active and nascent aircraft carrier forces--demand large, versatile auxilliary forces, and manning those numerous replenishment ships would be a tremendous drain on naval manning.

For all her differences in design, mission and manning, this "Ozzie" oiler and her crew are much like Lenthall; we have both come halfway 'round the world to support our nations' combat forces in troubled waters.  It's not a mission you will hear about on the television news, and there will never be a movie made about our contributions to the support and readiness of our and our allies vessels, but without ships and crews like ours there would be no far-flung naval forces.  A Navy without proper logistical support is, at best, a coastal patrol force.

So join me, please, in wishing these unsung heroes all possible Success in their voyaging!

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