By Debbie Gregory.
The Great Green Fleet (GGF) is a Department of the Navy initiative that demonstrates the sea service’s efforts to transform its energy use. Carrier Strike Group 3 and its flagship, the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis, are the first vessels to deploy using alternative fuels.
Named after President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced the concept of the GGF seven years ago.
“Diversifying our energy sources arms us with operational flexibility and strengthens our ability to provide presence, turning the tables on those who would use energy as a weapon against us,” Mabus said in a written statement.
The Navy is a leader when it comes to decreasing the U.S. armed forces dependence on fossil fuels. President Obama helped push the goal of curtailing fossil fuel dependence with his 2011 national energy strategy called the Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future.
The shift from fossil fuels to alternative fuels includes nuclear power for the carrier, and a blend of advanced biofuel made from beef fat and traditional petroleum for its escort ships. These biofuels are certified as “drop-in” replacements that require no engine modifications or changes to operational procedures, and can be produced from a variety of sources.
The third-generation drop-in fuel contains much less oxygen than in ethanol and biodiesel, but holds the same energy “density” as petroleum fuels. That means the energy released is equal to its fossil counterparts.
Throughout 2016, other Dept. of Navy platforms including ships, aircraft, amphibious and expeditionary forces, as well as shore installations, will participate in the GGF by using energy efficient systems, operational procedures, and/or alternative fuel during the course of planned mission functions worldwide.
The Navy hopes to have one half of its energy from alternative fuels by 2020