‘The Black Duke’ needed a well earned gulp of fuel to quench her thrust and allow her to proceed onto the next part of her 6 month Operational Tour.
Providing forward naval presence, the United States Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) is currently operating in the Mediterranean in support of maritime security operations in the region, alongside the Standing NATO Maritime Group.
Consisting of the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), and the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15), and over 4000 US Marines and Sailors, the task group also had with it the USNS Kanawha, a support tanker capable of providing both dry and wet stores to the group throughout its deployment.
With Monmouth stationed 1000yards astern of the group, the signal was given to make the approach. To break through the intense pressure and interaction effects caused by the tanker ship, Monmouth increased speed to upto 22kts before quickly decelerating to take station alongside the tanker, now only 45m away. On the other side of the tanker was the USS Bataan and the three ships engaged in a dual Replenishment at Sea (RAS) for almost two hours. It is this ability to sustain operations at sea without using ports that gives the RN its ability to poise for long periods of time in any area of the globe.
Maritime security operations are key in protecting not only UK interests worldwide, but also essential in maintaining global security. To that end, Monmouth, now through the Suez canal, is patrolling in the Gulf of Aden, a spot notorious for smuggling and piracy.