HMS Exploit and HMS Dasher RAS in Bay of Biscay

Portsmouth based Dasher and Cardiff based Exploit have recently carried out a replenishment at sea (RAS) in the Bay of Biscay as part of Operation Southern Sun.

P2000s do not have the capability to replenish fuel at sea and instead RAS to practice shiphandling and seamanship skills.  Exploit and Dasher passed goods between the two ships using a light line transfer. 

Like always in a P2000 the students embarked conducted the serial under the watchful eye of the ship's company safety numbers.

It took 3 attempts to get the line across and during this time the CO had to hold the ship in position whilst underway 5 metres from Dasher and at around 8 knots," said CPO Squeaky Stocker Exploit's XO.

This was the first time I'd seen a RAS and it was pretty interesting to take part in.

Mid Alex Harris

"Although the light line transfer or RAS does not feature in the URNU officer cadet or midshipman task book, the interaction between the ships during a RAS and shiphandling does so this was a good training serial, " commented Lt Ross Cornes, Exploit's senior training officer.

Normally when you think of a RAS, the image of a frigate or destroyer RASing with an RFA tanker comes to mind.

Although this was on a much smaller scale, the fundamentals were the same.  Dasher took the duties of RAS unit guide, settling on a predetermined course and speed, and became the RAS control ship.

Exploit took up a waiting station astern and to port of Dasher, before making an approach once Flag Romeo was close up in both ships.

Exploit and Dasher are batch 1 P2000s with a top speed of 15 knots.

The RAS speed was set at 8 knots which allowed Exploit to make a modified fast back down into position on Dasher's port side and into station for the first line to be passed. 

"This was the first time I'd seen a RAS and it was pretty interesting to take part in.

“On the bridge the Boss was using small conning orders and slight changes of engine orders to keep us in station on the Dasher. The MEO was on the wheel and the WEO was on the levers.

“On the forecastle the XO and NY were taking charge of the students to pass lines to Dasher and transfer equipment between the two ships," commented Mid Alex Harris, a first year student from University of Birmingham.

Exploit and Dasher are on a 8 week deployment along the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain on Operation Southern Sun - their annual summer deployment.

Both ships have recently visited Bilbao, Santander and Gijon along the north Spanish coastline. Dasher is Bristol URNU's affiliated patrol ship and Exploit belongs to Birmingham URNU. 

"The sun was out and the sea was relatively calm, good conditions for a RAS.

“We practice this during Operational Sea Training but do not connect up the ships.  This was the first RAS that Exploit has done for some time and it was a thoroughly regarding serial for all involved", added Lt Simon Shaw, Exploit's CO.