USNS Gianella serves in prototype fuel lightering operation

The USNS Lawrence H. Gianella in November successfully performed a skin-to-skin fuel lightering operation with the USNS Laramie in the Atlantic Ocean, Military Sealift Command reported.

The refueling operation was the first of its kind to be done using a commercial petroleum tanker's fueling line - a different diameter than the lines normally used on U.S. Navy ships.

"The commercial maritime industry has been conducting fuel lightering operations for several years," said Captain William Wiggins of the USNS Laramie. "Prior to today, MSC had never performed this type of operation with a fleet oiler."

The USNS Gianella is operated for MSC by Ocean Ships, Inc. and is manned in all licensed positions by members of American Maritime Officers.

The skin-to-skin fueling operation was made possible by a fuel line reducer, an apparatus which was attached to each side of the fueling line.

Once the lines were properly connected, the USNS Gianella pumped 10,000 gallons of fuel to the naval vessel without any compromise to the fueling line, Wiggins said.

The successful mission gives the military another option for at-sea refueling and provides another example of the versatility within the fleet, said Chris Douglas of MSC's fleet replenishment oiler program.

"This evolution was another example of MSC exploring alternate techniques, processes and capabilities to ensure our combatant fleet receives the fuel and supplies needed to succeed," he said.

Wiggins commended the crews of both ships for a job well done.

"The crews worked hard and it was a long day but overall we are considering this operation a success," he said.