USS America (LHA 6), the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship, conducted a bilateral fueling-at-sea (FAS) with Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender (D 36) while operating with elements of the HMS Queen Elizabeth (R 08) Carrier Strike Group (CSG-21) in the Philippine Sea, Aug. 20.
This is the first time in history a U.S. amphibious ship has conducted a FAS with a British warship, and the third time America has refueled a partner nation at sea this summer.
“The America Team thoroughly enjoyed having our Royal Navy brethren alongside today,” said Capt. Ken Ward, America’s commanding officer. “Today’s operations with Defender not only extended their operational time on station to support our combined missions, it provided another opportunity to demonstrate our interoperability with our allies and partners as we train and operate across a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Demonstrating a sustainment capacity unique to its class of amphibious assault ships, America refueled the Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) on July 27 during Talisman Sabre 21. Little more than a week later on Aug. 7, America consecutively refueled Ballarat and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Makinami (DD 112).
“By conducting this ground-breaking replenishment-at-sea in the Indo-Pacific we have further demonstrated our flexibility and interoperability with the UK’s most important strategic ally and partner,” said Cmdr. Vincent Owen, Defender’s commanding officer. “I’d like to thank the captain and crew of USS America for their professionalism in ensuring this unprecedented evolution was conducted safely and professionally and I look forward to working further with the U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group 7 over the coming days.”
America and USS New Orleans (LPD 18), both part of the Sasebo-based Amphibious Squadron 11, wrapped up participation in Large Scale Global Exercise 21 earlier this month before operating with CSG-21 during its deployment to the Indo-Pacific.
America, flagship of the America Expeditionary Strike Group, along with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance interoperability with allies and partners, and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.