Every day millions of Americans try their best to protect our planet; from recycling paper or plastic bottles, to carpooling to work, or driving a hybrid car. It all makes a difference. This year marks the 46th anniversary of Earth Day, a movement created to inspire and motivate us to find helpful ways to keep our planet cleaner.
The U.S. Navy is celebrating Earth Day this year with the theme “Creating Resiliency Afloat & Ashore,” to support efforts in environmental planning, training, and testing. The Navy’s January launch of the “Great Green Fleet” (GGF) – ships operating with advanced energy saving technologies and running on biofuel blends – is a great example of this year’s theme. The GGF highlights the Navy’s efforts to transform its energy use by demonstrating the usability of biofuel blends and other energy saving technologies that they intend to expand upon.
In addition to saving energy, the Navy also wants to save taxpayer money. The biofuel used by the Navy is made from tallow – or beef fat – and is considered a “drop-in” as it doesn’t require the Navy to change any of its engines, transport or delivery equipment, or operational procedures to use it once it’s blended with more expensive traditional fuel. This allows it to be used easily in all surface Navy ships without modifications.
In addition to biofuel, the Navy is using Energy Conservation Measures (ECM), technologies and practices that conserve energy for core mission practices. ECM includes the Shipboard Energy Dashboard, Stern Flaps, Short-Cycle Mission and Recovery Tanking (SMART), Solid State Lighting, and Thermal Management Control System.
While the concept to reduce dependency on traditional fossil fuels and increase energy efficiency was announced back in 2009 by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, the ultimate goal is to give Sailors and Marines an advantage and to make them better warfighters. Using biofuels helps this effort by reducing the Navy’s dependency on oil with variable prices and origins in countries that aren’t necessarily friendly to U.S. interests. Decreasing fuel consumption also makes the Navy less vulnerable to logistical issues, allowing ships to stay on station longer and deliver more firepower.
Just as President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet showed the might of the U.S. Navy and our nation as a global power more than 100 years ago, the Great Green Fleet shows how our Navy continues to operate globally, using energy conservation and innovation to provide the presence necessary to ensure stability, deter potential adversaries, and provide options in times of crisis.