ENERGY AND THE MILITARY: Navy and Marine Corps

July 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm Leave a comment

The Great Green Fleet

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt sent a squadron of white-painted U.S. Navy ships – later nicknamed the Great White Fleet – around the world in a show of American sea power and international goodwill.

Great White Fleet (U.S. Navy Archives)

Just a little over 100 years later, the Navy is preparing to send another large naval group, this time dubbed the Great Green Fleet, on another goodwill mission to show American commitment to energy conservation powered entirely by alternative fuels.

The Pentagon’s recently released (May 2011) Operational Energy Strategy holds that energy – whether gasoline, oil, jet fuel or electricity – is a resource that the military relies upon to do its job. The strategy calls for using energy resources wisely to ensure energy security, lower risks to the troops in the field, shift resources “to other warfighting priorities” and save the taxpayers’ money.

The main concern is the price volatility, limited supply and uncertain access to foreign oil. Every $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil costs the Defense Department $1.3 billion a year. “The more we replace foreign sources of oil with more diverse, domestically produced alternative fuels, the better we are as a military and … as a nation,” Thomas Hicks, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for energy told a congressional hearing last month.

For some time now, the Navy and Marine Corps have been working on ways to replace fossil fuels and make alternative fuels more efficient and cost effective. Programs have ranged from an F/A-18, dubbed “The Green Hornet,” testing biofuels to Marines in Afghanistan shucking some of their expensive, heavy and energy-sucking batteries for solar power.

The Great Green Fleet, an aircraft carrier strike group powered by a 50/50 blend of hydro-processed renewable diesel fuel is set to sail next year, says Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment. She told a July 7 defense energy briefing sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust that the eventual goal is to reduce the Navy’s conventional energy use by half by 2020..

While Navy and Marine Corps personnel played only a small role among the speakers at this week’s U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force Energy Forum in Arlington, Virginia, the sea services have been active in alternative fuels and energy production on their own.

In addition to the Great Green Fleet, energy targets identified by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in 2009 include: reducing non-tactical petroleum use to 50 percent by 2015; increasing the use of alternative energy ashore and making the evaluation of energy factors a mandatory part of contract awards for navy systems and buildings.

The HR-D fuel to be used by the Great Green Fleet is 50 percent algae-based and 50 percent NATO F-76 fuel. Unlike biofuels, it does not include water which is not compatible with shipboard fuel systems. That fuel is currently being tested by the small, high-speed boats of Riverine Group 1 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Riverine Group 1 conducts maneuvers aboard Riverine Command Boat (Experimental) (RCB-X) at Naval Station Norfolk. The RCB-X is powered by an alternative fuel blend of 50 percent algae-based and 50 percent NATO F-76 fuels. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gregory N. Juday)

Pfannenstiel said the green carrier strike group would be ready for local deployment by 2012 with an as-yet-unplanned international itinerary by 2016. After the session at the Pew Charitable Trust, Pfannenstiel was asked if the Great Green Fleet would indeed be painted green. “I think when they talk about resistance, that might cause some resistance,” she said.

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Entry filed under: National Security and Defense, News Developments, Skills and Training, Washington, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

ENERGY AND THE MILITARY: U.S. Army, Air Force Forum (Updated) FRIDAY FOTO (July 22, 2011)

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