Heavy RAS – Royal Navy

A few pictures of the Royal Navy’s new Heavy Replenishment at Sea (RAS) rig during testing and development at HMS Raleigh.

Navy News had a great article on the new system;

The aim of the new complex is to transfer 25 five-tonne loads every hour for five hours across a 55-metre (180ft) gap separating two – that’s one pallet every two minutes and 24 seconds, or 625 tonnes of stores in all.  Even with fully-honed teams on both ships, the best you could hope for presently would be 200-250 tonnes.

Click the image to read

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”https://navynews.co.uk/archive/news/item/3911″]

Rolls Royce won the £25m contract to develop the system and build the training facility

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.rolls-royce.com/news/press_releases/2011/20110303_royal_navy_replenishment_at_sea.jsp”]

Read more about Rolls Royce Replenishment at Sea here

This shows a great commitment to the enabling capabilities that allow the Royal Fleet Auxiliary to support the Royal Navy on long and distant deployments, a capability missing in many other maritime forces. The training facility is also said to be unique.

The big jump is not only in speed but capacity, previously, loads were limited to 2 tonnes, the new system will be able to handle 5 tonnes. Due for handover next Spring the images below, courtesy of Rebecca Ricks of the Plymouth Herald and with thanks, show the system in action.

Heavy RAS Training rig 01 Heavy RAS Training rig 02 Heavy RAS Training rig 03

[UPDATE]

A news story from Navy News

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and-Events/Latest-News/2013/May/31/130531-Next-generation-demonstrator”]

 

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Sugarboat
Sugarboat
May 31, 2013 10:21 am

In my time with the RNSTS etc (36 years) and in RFA Resource (also later at HQ Bath as a MHE advisor to all RNSTS solid carrying Depot ships and shore establishments) and RASing with HM aircraft carriers Eagle, Ark Royal and Hermes (plus other HM ships and solid carrying RFA’s) we as they are today limited by the handling capacity of the MHE in the RFA – 1 to 1.25tonne so when RAS with a carrier we used to use 2 RAS rigs and possibly VERTREP as well at the same time to get approx 600 loads, so there will have to be some major changes in todays sold carrying RFA to enable 5 tonne loads to be handled by there MHE and possibly lifts to below 1/main deck hold levels.
(MHE – Material Handling Equipment, RNSTS – Royal Navy Supply and Transport Service, VERTREP -Vertical Replenisment)

Peter Elliott
May 31, 2013 10:43 am

@TD your suggestion appears build in the need to double handle the stores on the deck of the supply ship, bringing them up in 1 tonne pallets and then packing them into 5 tonne containers ready to go across, which can’t be an efficient use of manpower.

To me it underlines the need for the new MARS SSS which will presumably be designed from scratch with the new Heavy RAS material handling rates in mind.

Full containers of stores able to be brought straight up from the holds and straight onto the Heavy RAS rig.

Peter Elliott
May 31, 2013 11:06 am

@TD

I think its more about the rate. With the loads consolidated into 5T containers you simply need many fewer passes of the rig so can get finished and un-docked a lot quicker.

Sugarboat
Sugarboat
May 31, 2013 1:08 pm

As part of the task at Bath we also managed the RAS/VERTREP handling equipment and I remember that because of height problems and the swinging movements etc sustained to loads when RASing that the test criteria for the slings etc was between 8 and 12 times the Safe Weight Lifting (SWL) of the item so a 5T SWL proof test would between 40T and 60T proof load – I feel sure members that have been to sea will well remember the movements of loads on the jackstay, I well remember the trials with trying to RAS Seaslug to the County class which required a very static load when being transferred which always in my time failed so trying to make 5T containers rigid I would have thought would meet the same fate as Seaslug attempts.

Sugarboat
Sugarboat
May 31, 2013 1:31 pm

THINKDEFENCE point is very valid as we for general loads are trying to meet NATO STANAG of a 1000mm X 1200mm X 1.8T requirement apart from very large weapons in the RN/RM use which for me is only Heavy weight Torpedoes in todays inventory that exceeds that oh you could always put 10 x 1000lb bombs in a container as opposed to todays 2 x 1000Lb on its pallet as the work involved to stuff and strip the container would be significantly greater, I remember the old fixed wing Eagle when coming home after her farewell Far East trip and we de-ammunition her so she straight into Plymouth and we went non-operational because we had no room to move let alone attempt a RAS or VERTREP with other than food the thought of it 5T containers even only as RAS vehicles is horrifying to think of.

Opinion3
Opinion3
May 31, 2013 2:09 pm

Nice to be leading the way

Peter Elliott
May 31, 2013 2:24 pm

@TD – I beleive an F35B engine in packaged form weighs in at around 5,000 Kg. So that may have something to do with it.

But to be honest transferring one of these ought to be a occasional event and could presumably be VERTREP by Chinook. For me the big advantage will be the ability to shift large amounts of mundane, ordinary solid stores much much quicker than the present rigs allow, thus reducing the risky time spent with the rig connected.

The most interesting point from @Sugarboat is that the whole layout of the supply ship actually needs to be planned around supporting the matrial handling rates of the new RAS rig, which for me is where the need for MARS SSS comes in.

Sugarboat
Sugarboat
May 31, 2013 2:44 pm

Thank you THINKDEFENCE – I cannot help but think this for a very narrow range of items like a F35 engine the space on the supplying ship for significant number of these supply containers plus the staff etc to bring items up from the holds to stuff the container for the same as an old weekly RAS for multi hundreds of loads of food, naval stores, air stores plus practice armaments – plus of course the QE has to move each container away from the RAS receiving point to allow the next container to be sent over (would presume QE RAS point access there hangar to provide space to work) and of course at the end all the empties have to be sent back to the supplying ship is beyond my belief and experience, either to me there is still today’s method of RAS as well or it is not envisages that significant RASing like in the past will take place in the future. Clearly this method cannot be employed on a smaller RN ship so another method must be available or only Liquid RAS’s and VERTREP’s are envisage in the future.

Rocket Banana
May 31, 2013 2:51 pm

Surely an F35 engine would be air lifted? They’re only a couple of tonnes.

El Sid
El Sid
May 31, 2013 2:51 pm

@TD – to answer your question in another thread, the F-135 engine is about 1700kg (not that different to Pegasus) – but I don’t think that’s the end of it, Tinker AFB have been putting in 5-ton cranes for F-35 maintenance when it seems they didn’t need them for F-22 maintenance.

Storm Shadow is about 1200kg from memory, which would be a new weapon for the FAA.

leesea
leesea
May 31, 2013 3:17 pm

I simply cannot see a need to UNREP ISO freight containers. Ship can go STS skin to skin to transfer “boxes” such as that. The USN has many ships involved in container transfers T-ACS are just a few of those.

Sid et all, I ask this about the F-35 engine. Why does the USN have to spend $12 mil each for a heavy UNREP rig solely sized to transfer that engine at sea? Can NOT the carrier wait until return to port to swap out those? Stock enough spares onboard and the $12 mil x 10 or 15 CLF installed cost is negated. and that does not include life cycle costs?

I would also note that in the USN our CLF ships are specifically designed to perform selective discharge of their cargos. Meaning particles are selected from the cargo holds to fill supply requisitions from the customer ship.

Observer
Observer
May 31, 2013 3:33 pm

I’m half tempted to say “build them all with a welldock!!” :)

I know, not really practical and there is a fair bit of space wastage in them, but the temptation to simply sail your cargo load into the ship with a landing craft has got to be there.

Tom
Tom
May 31, 2013 3:59 pm

@Observer – Unless your in a heavy rolling sea in which case your landing craft is going to struggle just a little bit.

Neil
Neil
May 31, 2013 5:30 pm

Good discussion by some obviously knowledgable people.

Just a few corrections though to guide the discussion. The weight and size of the load is not in anyway connected to ISO containers, this is a major misconception. You may wish to read up on the HMWHS that the queen Elizabeth class will use to keep crew numbers down. The skid (pallet) is probably 3x the footprint of a standard NATO pallet. This has to be RASed. The weight is driven, in part by the f35 engine.

El Sid
El Sid
May 31, 2013 5:59 pm


The obvious answer is that if you keep just one more F-135 on your carrier, that’s an extra $20-25m per ship, so $12m on your UNREP rig is a bargain! Let alone being more flexible for other things.

As I said before, the F-135 is about the same weight as the Harrier’s Pegasus, so it’s not just about engines. More generally, maintaining an F-35 seems to need much heavier equipment than a Harrier and it seems to be not just the result of it being a bigger aircraft – I guess it’s designed to come apart in bigger bits? Not something I know about specifically, just the impression I’ve got.

There’s also the general trend for equipment becoming bigger and heavier (qv C-17 replacing a lot of C-130 work and so on), so if you’re going to uprate your standard RAS unit then the move to F-35 and the new carriers seems a good time to do it, plus there’s the scope to reduce manpower that @Neil mentions.

Also the trend is to assume that you don’t have local bases to conveniently act as supply hubs (consistent in the USN’s case with the Pacific pivot and a few missiles hitting Guam/Pearl) – likewise the USN is looking again at that old chestnut, VLS-RAS.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
May 31, 2013 11:14 pm

With the exception of Neil & Sugarboat this is the usual pile of uninformed nonsense.

Firstly – forget all about RAS-ing ISO TEU. Not going to happen via jackstay. Ever.

The “Skin to Skin” elements that the US are looking at is more to do with what you might call over the shore logs. The one trial they have done basically consist of one of their dedicated crane ships working next to a T-AKS container Ro-Con. No tween deck handling occurred in that test and it cost the USN literally north of $100M to get to that stage.

More importantly, it skips over the non-homogeneous (sorry) nature of your average UNREP cargo. That tends to consist of NATO standard pallets of what is often referred to as Beer, Binbags and bog-roll, in addition to huge quantities of frozen and chilled vittles’ and air spares, electronic components and “stuff” for the ship. None of which are easily stored (and more importantly accessed) in TEU. Essentially a lot of stuff that is volume driven (ie not mass driven).

Munitions are a slightly different kettle of fish. Some of the munitions containers are beasts you could not believe (have a look at a Storm Shadow AURC if you need proof), whereas others like some of the PW series and JDAM are basically a pallet with a couple of rounds strapped to it. Thing is, those rounds need other bits like tail kits, fuses, guidance sensors etc which also come in boxes and take volume and weight. Hence the decision nearly ten years ago now to develop a Heavy RAS capability, which if truth be told gets us in the same ballpark as the cousins. A Military Sealift Cmd captain of my acquaintance used to openly laugh when the RN worried about going above 2 tonne, usually followed by pulling out his photos and UNREP logbook which demonstrated the gap between what we do and what they did – and it wasn’t particularly trick kit that made the difference either.

Sugarboat is absolutely correct that MHE capability (usually limited by the ship design) is a major factor. What he perhaps does not appreciate is that it was a self-fulfilling prophecy – “don’t bother with higher capacity MHE, the ship won’t take it”, usually followed by “design the new ship to take this type of MHE”. The case in point is the proof test referred to, which is based on an 8x SWL. The origin of that is lost in the mists of time, but here’s the interesting thing – no-one could find a written reference to the derivation/rationale behind it and more to the point, it’s got f8ck-all to do with the SWL and everything to do with the tension in the jackstay wire, which using our current system is set to 8 te or less.

A lot of work has been done on this and the full implementation will only be recognised with a new stores ship, but that will come. The old Forts have a limited lifespan and this will break the cycle of design deck pressure etc.

The 5 te transfer load is driven by the F135 container which is much heavier than the engine. Largely because the engine is quite delicate and gets handled by a variety of MHE in a wide range of conditions. Would you put a precisely engineered bit of kit that has finely balanced spinning elements in a cardboard box? As Neil points out, there is also a specific skid that belongs with the HMWHS that needs to be included in transfer mass.

Heavy RAS is another one of these elements that has been slowly proceeding under the radar and will eventually have a major impact on Carrier strike capability. However, we also have to continue to support the other elements of the fleet where handing capacity is limited to the NATO 2 te pallet (LPD, LPH, T45) or less (pretty much everything else….).

Believe the USN VLS RAS thing when you see it. Look up Mk41 VLS. Then look up the actual missile containers that sit in it. Then think about how you’re going to transfer those empty (half tonne, near 25 ft long beasties) out before putting new ones in. Then think about where you’re going to store the empties. I saw a prototype system at Port Hueneme in the early naughties – there’s a reason they dropped the programme and it wasn’t lack of money…..

All Politicians are The same
All Politicians are The same
May 31, 2013 11:26 pm

@NAB

“With the exception of Neil & Sugarboat this is the usual pile of uninformed nonsense”

What a grouchy git, go and stand in the “engineers have no peoples skills corner for 10 minutes”.

I can get quite frustrated by some posts on ops matters, including some of your crossovers but the best bit about this site is that people who have Professional knowledge generally try and pass it on, not berate or belittle.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
May 31, 2013 11:44 pm

I’ve got soft skills and everything! Was trying to pre-empt a dive down the “it’s all gone wrong on QEC again” or “it should all be containers” path. Read it again – berating / belittling not the intent.

Sugarboat
Sugarboat
June 1, 2013 8:47 am

In regard to NOT A BOFFIN comment on MHE when the UK looked at MHE design and requirements post war which ended up with the then Lansing Bagnall FOER 15 in CatC/IP44 (it could lift 1.5t but you had to sit 3 Welshmen an its rear as its counterbalance weight was inadequate because the FLT with out battery {the battery was the counterbalance weight} fitted could only use the old Rs lifts) we imposed a requirement for our MHE to work safely in a sea state 6 condition this was trialled at Milford Haven with special flat top lighters which became very alarming during trials.
So this requirement and Resurgent/Retainers lift capacity were the limiters when new Rs came along then the weight problem was removed so a true LB counterbalance Flt in 1.5t capacity but in CatA Zone 2 T30/IP64 was employed with the Cleco Crab sideloaders for large loads, when the RNSTS was created we removed the Reach Trucks that were employed in the NESS class supply ships because they did not meet the sea state conditions for working.
The largest load we RAS’d explosive apart from SEASLUG – inerts only was SEA DART though not to heavy it was fairly large the largest non explosive load RAS’d was Helo blades. It is certainly not an ISO projected but a handling vehicle in the same manner that LEPUS FLARES had specially designed containers just for RAS though the one projected here is more general purpose.

Sugarboat
Sugarboat
June 1, 2013 8:59 am

In regard to USN supply vessels I did manage a look round by invitation (I was the Snr Stores Officer at NATO AD Glen Douglas at the time) the USS Detroit when she came to Glen Mallan with Mk48s,Mk64s etc for us I was impressed in a ship that so large could still not be a true “one stop ship” for items needed by USN ships but they were very generous in free space and the amount of MHE provided I could only deduce because the USN had so many supply ships they did not need “jam pack” them with cargo as we did with our solid supply ships, as an example in Resource when support Eagle etc we carried 5000 bombs as a base CV load.

Henry
Henry
June 10, 2013 10:52 am

I wonder why they decided not to do for a dual wire system, would have provided a lot more stability and reduced some of the requirement for such exacting weight distribution in the load.