Replenishment vessels (AORs in RCN parlance, which stands for Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment) are the quasi-cargo vessels that keep the fleet at sea for extended periods, by providing the necessary fuel, munitions, supplies, and other consumables that Navy vessels require to remain combat capable. In some better funded navies, the fuel and munitions are delegated to different classes of ships, but the RCN can only afford to maintain and man a single small class of such vessels that must combine these functions.
The first of the RCN's dedicated AOR fleet was HMCS PROVIDER, built in the early 1960s as a one-off design. She was built with three "goal posts" (the single one forward of the bridge was later removed) for transferring fuel and supplies to ships at sea, and also incorporated a helicopter landing deck and hangar for three Sea Kings, which could also be used for transferring supplies at sea through a process known as VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment). PROVIDER served the RCN well for over 30 years (she was my father-in-law's favourite ship), but she did have her shortcomings, notably her open "jungle deck" which made service on the North Atlantic rather unpleasant (hence her transfer to the West Coast for most of her career).
At the end of the 1960's, two more ships were built along the same basic lines of PROVIDER, but with various improvements based on the lessons learned with PROVIDER. A larger bridge superstructure up front, and an enclosed jungle deck were two of the more obvious visual cues. PROTECTEUR and PRESERVER both ended up serving for more than 40 years.
Which brings me to the subject of this blog post: having covered some of the other internal spaces, I should probably spend some time reviewing their raison d'être, the cargo handling areas within the ship (I will cover the goal posts and other above-deck hardware in a separate post).
The first area to cover is the "jungle deck" on No. 1 Deck. The largest tenant of the internal volume of the ship is the vast tankage below the jungle deck, used for storing the various bunker and aviation fuels required to keep the fleet underway at sea. The "jungle deck" sits above these tanks, one level below the main deck, and its footprint covers the majority of this tankage. The number of non-tankage internal spaces that go deeper than the jungle deck within the ship are limited to the engine and boiler rooms, a pump room, the various spaces ahead of the jungle deck, and the dry stores hold (aft) and ammunition hold (forward) that are situated in the middle of the tankage area.
|The forward end of the jungle deck, looking to starboard. This space is located under the forward end of the bridge superstructure.|
The photo above shows one of the few areas of the jungle deck that runs uninterrupted from the port to starboard sides. This particular space apparently was used as a temporary morgue during the Swissair 111 disaster recovery in 1998. The circular hatch near the centre of the photo is the top of a blackwater tank, with the hatch for JP5 Tank #1 towards the back right of the photo. The hatches are about the only visible indicator in any of my photos of the vast tankage below this area. Fuel tanks and electronics do not mix, so I wasn't offered the change of taking photos down into any of the tanks.
Whereas PROVIDER's jungle deck was completely open, PRESERVER's access to the open air is limited to these openings which have covers that can be closed when not required to be open:
|One of PRESERVER's starboard side jungle deck hatches.|
|Looking aft in PRESERVER's starboard jungle deck.|
A multitude of piping can be seen in the photo above, all necessary to transfer the various fuels up to the hoses of the goal posts, and then on to a receiving ship. Some more tank top hatches can be seen, such as the one on the right of this photo for FFO Tank #3.
Situated along the centreline of the jungle deck, between the bridge superstructure and hangar, is the dry cargo handling stores, and one deck above that (Main Deck level) is the Holding & Dispersing Area.
|Looking aft in the Holding & Dispersing area. Behind the firefighting gear is the ammunition hoist, one of two hoists in the ship. The Stores lift is to the left in the background of the photo.|
|The Stores lift on No. 1 Deck, one deck below the photo above. The hatch for No.4 tank (on the starboard jungle deck) can be seen through the hatch to the right of the photo.|
|Dry stores lift winch on No. 1 Deck.|
|Dry stores (looking down the Stores lift).|
|Dry stores. The green netting presumably keeps everything in the racks when at sea.|