USS Milius completes highline personnel transfer

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Taylor DiMartino
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Taylor DiMartino

USS Milius completes highline personnel transfer

USS Milius Public Affairs

Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) completed a highline personnel transfer during a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-AO 197) while underway in the East China Sea, Oct. 22.

The evolution was a career first for all hands and marked a return to traditional seamanship skills.

Utilizing a bright orange seat, known as a boatswain’s chair, rigged via a pulley system to the ship’s span wire, Milius sent three Sailors high above churning, blue waters to Pecos, which, in-turn, sent four personnel back to the warship.

“The ship hasn’t done this kind of evolution in many years, and it was important to make sure everything was done right,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate William Garcia, from Los Angeles, who was on deck as a safety observer during the transfer. “We looked at all of the technical manuals, blueprints and drawings to make sure everything was rigged up correctly.”

Garcia said that in order for the evolution to be completed flawlessly, everybody on station had to be ready to do his or her job. From the officer of the deck making sure the ship stayed on course, to the safety coordinators paying attention to every detail during the evolution, he said it took teamwork and precise execution to keep everyone involved safe.

“Along with doing their job and paying attention to safety, another key aspect of the highline transfer was training,” said Garcia. “This type of transfer doesn’t happen very often in the Navy anymore. In my opinion, the skills gained by doing the operation gave us valuable training moving forward.”

Cmdr. Jonathan Hopkins, Milius’ commanding officer, agreed that valuable training was gained during the highline transfer that will shape future evolutions aboard Milius.

“To be the best, you have to train like the best,” said Hopkins. “This was an opportunity to expand on our seamanship and accomplish the mission while operating forward. This experience is one the crew will not soon forget, but more importantly, this added capability improves our ability to conduct sustained operations at sea. This evolution represents the combined effort of two crews and we thank the crew of USNS Pecos for their outstanding teamwork.”

There were few as central to the evolution as Electrician’s Mate Fireman Apprentice James Birch, from Charlotte, N.C., who was among the personnel transferred along the wire from Pecos to Milius.

“I didn’t realize before I jumped in the chair that riding the highline would be such a unique experience,” said Birch. “I didn’t realize so few people actually get transferred between ships like that.”

“You’ve got to put trust in the equipment and in your shipmates and the instructions they give you,” said Birch. “Even if you begin to feel unsure, having the knowledge that you’re in safe hands makes all the difference.”

“It’s a great, safe method to move people between ships when the need arises,” said Garcia. “Now that our Sailors have this experience under their belts, we plan to utilize the highline transfer more often moving forward. Our Sailors will take these experiences with them for the rest of their time in the Navy and pass it on to future generations of Sailors to be used after them. That’s what these evolutions are all about.”

Milius is underway conducting operations in the Indo-Pacific region while assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.

Photo Caption:
EAST CHINA SEA (Oct. 22, 2019) Lt. Kareem Coley, from Brooklyn, N.Y., prepares to depart the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) to board the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-AO 197) via boatswain’s chair during a replenishment-at-sea. Milius is underway conducting operations in the Indo-Pacific region while assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force.

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