Forget the Great Green Fleet

Forget the Great Green Fleet…

One of the more dangerous programs of the last administration was the Great Green Fleet.

This was promoted by then Navy Secretary Mabus.

He adhered to Executive Order 13514, October 8, 2009, issued by president Obama that ordered the Defense Department (DOD) and other agencies to cut CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The armed services should not be used as a laboratory for experimenting with methods for cutting GHG emissions, yet Secretary Mabus pursued this effort with a vengeance and created the Great Green Fleet.

Unfortunately, there are those who still promote the Great Green Fleet.

The USNI proceedings, a professional magazine published by the U.S. Naval Institute, published an article encouraging the development of the Great Green Fleet.

The picture leading the USNI article was that of an oiler refueling another navy ship at sea, during underway replenishment.

The USNI article stressed that DOD was the single largest consumer of petroleum products in the United States.

While this is true, it’s not a reason to endanger our ability to fight a war.

The accompanying pictures in this article are old, but the operation of underway replenishment is still vital to conducting operations at sea and it hasn’t changed appreciably.

Underway Replenishment.Photo by D. Dears

It’s not just oil and jet fuel that needs to be replenished when ships have been at sea for weeks on end; it’s food, ammunition, and other supplies.

Transferring food and supplies while underway at 10 knots. Photo by D. Dears.
A second ship on the starboard side would also be receiving supplies.

The USNI article used the straw soldier of the number of people killed protecting fuel convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan to promote alternative fuels and energy efficiency.

The problem of energy resupply in forbidding terrain and isolated countries is serious and needs to be addressed.

Implementing solar battery recharging and energy saving programs in remote battlefields is essential.

But trying to convert the entire military establishment to becoming Green endangers our national security.

Using money for the purpose of being Green, diverts it from critical war fighting needs.

The USNI article said, “DOD should embrace the Navy’s Great Green Fleet concept.”

The USNI article highlighted the use of biofuels in aircraft and the use of diesel fuel blended with beef tallow from the Midwest. Perhaps this is an opportunity for McDonald’s to join the defense effort?

Spending money to install solar power at military bases in the United States diverts money from building ships or acquiring needed material. Requiring military establishments to buy expensive wind and solar “renewable” energy also diverts money from where it’s needed.

Here is what RAND, an independent research organization, concluded about whether DOD should spend money on alternative fuels. The RAND report opens with the following statement:

“Over the past few years, the U.S. Department of Defense has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the development, testing, and certification of alternative fuels that can substitute for petroleum-derived fuels used by the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, and Air Force in their tactical weapon systems.”

The primary danger of the Great Green Fleet concept is that it takes our eye off the goal, which is to win wars with as few casualties as possible.

The results of trying to reduce costs are now coming home to roost. As the USNI article admits, most energy savings programs have resulted in reduced flying hours and reduced time at sea for ships, which has led to less training.

The Navy is now confronting the results of trying to cut costs.

The recent deaths from collisions at sea, involving the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, are likely the result of inadequate training.

While the primary cause of the lack of training and poor ship readiness is inadequate funding by Congress, using money to promote the Great Green Fleet has exacerbated the problem.

It’s important to understand logistic issues.

  • Ships operating at sea are dependent on the service force to deliver food, ammunition, aviation fuel, fuel oil and other supplies, such as medicine and equipment. When in a foreign port, ships typically acquire supplies from local sources that are less expensive or obviate the need for transport across the ocean. They can obtain fresh fruit and fresh milk, which becomes a rarity after a ship has been at sea for a prolonged period.
  • Jet fuel, diesel, and fuel oil are available in foreign locations which can simplify logistics and save money. Biofuel refineries aren’t likely to be found in Asian, Mideast or Mediterranean ports, so biofuels would have to be transported across the ocean.
  • Additional Fast Combat Support Ships (or oilers) would be needed if biofuels must be kept separate from regular fuels or transported from the United States.

The men and women of our armed forces deserve the best we can give them, and we shouldn’t be conducting political experiments that puts their lives in danger.

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