Watch this video to hear SECNAV Mabus discuss the 2016 deployment of the Great Green Fleet
Wednesday marked a milestone in the U.S. Navy‘s mission to reduce dependence on traditional fossil fuels and increase energy efficiency when the Great Green Fleet (GGF) – comprised of Carrier Strike Group Three (CSG 3) – set sail following a ceremony on board Naval Station North Island.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack attended the ceremony, which concluded when CSG 3’s guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106) departed for deployment followed by nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The strike group also includes guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), both of which departed San Diego Tuesday. Guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) will join them from Hawaii.
Each GGF biofuel-powered ship will operate on a blend of 10 percent biofuel made from tallow (rendered beef fat) and 90 percent petroleum. This fuel blend is “drop-in” certified which means it doesn’t require ships make any changes to existing equipment or procedure in accordance with Department of Defense policy. Policy also mandates that replacement fuels not require changes to current infrastructure in place for transporting and distributing fuel. Each ship in CSG 3 will also use energy conservation technologies and operating procedures, known as Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs), along with alternative energy during the group’s deployment to the Western Pacific.
The GGF is the result of a seven-year push by the U.S. Navy to deploy a CSG with renewable energy. The idea stemmed from energy goals SECNAV introduced in 2009 to reduce the Department of the Navy’s (DON) consumption of energy, decrease its reliance on foreign sources of oil, and significantly increase its use of alternative energy.
A year-long DON initiative, the GGF will demonstrate the utility of alternative fuels and the Navy’s efforts to transform its energy use to increase operational capability. Throughout 2016 Navy ships, aircraft, amphibious and expeditionary forces, and shore installations will participate by using ECMs, and/or alternative fuel during the course of planned mission functions worldwide.
The ultimate goal is to give Sailors and Marines an advantage that makes them better warfighters who are able to go farther, stay on station longer and deliver more firepower. Mabus has said it makes sense to give combatant commanders an alternative to fuels with variable prices and origins in countries that aren’t necessarily friendly to U.S. interests. Alternative fuels could also help provide another source of energy if there were disruptions in the fossil-fuel supply chain.
Just as President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet helped usher in America as a global power on the world stage at the beginning of the 20th Century, the GGF will usher in the next era of DON energy innovation.
Check out this All Hands piece on the GGF