In a high-end fight, the Navy’s missile shooters will need to rearm quickly at sea. This crane from the USS Emory S. Land (AS-39) removes an expended vertical launch canister from the USS Benfold (DDG-65).
The U.S. Navy began experimenting with underway replenishment capabilities in 1899. The goal then was to enable coal-fired warships to receive fuel while under way so they could stay at sea and avoid the predictable stops at coaling stations around the globe. Today, with more than 30 ships in the combat logistics force, the U.S. fleet can be replenished at sea with fuel, ordnance, and stores so it can remain at sea almost indefinitely—with one important exception.