Ships meet in Med to keep force supplied

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TWO ships deployed on one of the Royal Navy’s biggest naval exercises have met up in the Mediterranean for a swap of supplies.

HMS Illustrious and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary supply ship RFA Fort Austin held a straight course side-by-side while the exchange took place. For the Portsmouth-based helicopter carrier, it was her second replenishment at sea in Cougar 13.

A total of 17 pallets were moved back and forwards, carrying the ammunition, oils, and lubricants needed to keep the task group she is part of in good working order.

In return, the carrier sent across her waste, which will be stored and disposed of when RFA Fort Austin next stops in port.

Both ships are taking part in Cougar 13, which sees the navy’s Response Force Task Group honing its maritime skills thousands of miles from home.

Commander Phil Hally, from HMS Illustrious, said: ‘Supply ships like RFA Fort Austin act as a warehouse meaning we can stay at sea indefinitely.

‘The supplies we have taken on board will not only cover Illustrious but other ships in the task force as we will distribute them at a later stage in the exercise.’

Fort Royal Navy ships and five Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships are taking part, including Portsmouth-based HMS Westminster.