HMS Dragon crew relax after taking the risks

OPERATION The gunline party fires the first line over to the USNS Rainier. Picture: L(Phot) Dave Jenkins
OPERATION The gunline party fires the first line over to the USNS Rainier. Picture: L(Phot) Dave Jenkins
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ENJOYING ice creams against the backdrop of a setting sun, the crew of HMS Dragon seem quite relaxed on board their ship as they cruise through the Gulf.

But the treat is well-earned, as they have just completed a very demanding and risky refuelling operation at sea.

Although it’s a routine procedure, and one the crew of HMS Dragon will have conducted dozens of times before, alongside replenishment is a risky operation.

Two ships running side-by-side at speed must hold the same course and speed for lengthy periods of time, while highly flammable fuels pass between them.

HMS Dragon has conducted several replenishment operations during her time in the Middle East, and today’s link-up with supply ship USNS Rainier is no different.

The procedure begins when the two ships are side-by-side, on a steady course and speed.

A crew member from HMS Dragon fires a gunline across to the USNS Rainier, which is used to pull across a distance marker, giving the bridge a visual guide as to how far apart the ships are.

Once the remaining lines are connected, a large hose can be transferred and the refuelling can begin.

HMS Dragon marked the end of the operation by blasting Motorhead’s Ace of Spades over the ship’s upper deck broadcast system.

Shaking his head, the ship’s commanding officer, Captain Iain Lower, said: ‘Usually we play Tom Jones.’