NORFOLK NAVAL STATION, Va., Oct. 25, 2010 — The U.S. Navy last week conducted a demonstration here featuring an experimental riverine command boat which uses an alternative fuel blend of 50 percent algae-based and 50 percent NATO F‑76 fuel oil.
The demonstration is part of an initiative to support Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ efforts to reduce the fleet’s reliance on fossil fuels and is part of a series of progressively complex tests and evaluations scheduled through 2012.
Rear Adm. Philip Cullom, Chief of Naval Operations’ director of energy and environmental readiness, which leads the Navy’s Task Force Energy, said the demonstration was a historic step on the road toward energy independence for the Navy.
“What you’ve seen today is a mean, green riverine machine,” Cullom said. “This demonstration is a great example of the fleet answering the Secretary of the Navy’s call. He told us a year ago that by 2020 half of our platforms at sea would be operating on an alternative fuel other than petroleum. We made an important step toward that goal today.”
The initiative toward a Navy running on alternative fuels is multi-purpose, the admiral said.
“Our primary mission for Navy energy reform is to increase warfighting capability, both strategically and tactically,” Cullom said. “From a strategic perspective, we are reducing reliance on fossil fuels from unstable locations. Tactically, efficient use of energy resources extends our combat range and use of non-petroleum fuels assures multiple supplies are available.”
Sailors assigned to Riverine Group 1 here conducted the demonstration, performing maneuvers meant to simulate actions taken during offensive operations.
Rear Adm. Michael P. Tillotson, commander of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, said the most impressive aspect of the demonstration was that there was no functional impact on how the boat performed.
“The coxswain of the boat told me he couldn’t tell a difference between the bio-fuel mix and the normal fuel,” Tillotson said. “I think that is a testament to how practical and beneficial this fuel can be for our people, our Navy and our country.”
Cullom said the bio-fuels program will benefit servicemembers by increasing efficiency and extending the ranges they can travel without refueling.
“This program is going to benefit our people,” he said. “If this extends the range of a pilot, say, one more pass around a carrier, it could mean the difference in allowing that pilot to get home to his or her family safely.”
The testing and demonstration of alternative fuels for ships is led by Naval Sea Systems Command’s advanced fuels program office. The office, working in coordination with the Task Force Energy Maritime Working Group, supports the Secretary of the Navy’s efforts to reduce total energy consumption on naval ships.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)