Riverine Command Boat (RCB-X) at Naval Station Norfolk. (Photo: US Navy M.C.S. 2Class Gregory N. Juday)
Navy to fuel half its vessels alternatively by 2020
Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 01:40 (GMT + 9)
The Navy ran a full power display of a vessel powered by an alternative fuel for the first time last week in the waters off Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. The Navy’s vessels use 80,000 barrels of oil daily, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has thus ordered it to fuel half of its total energy consumption from alternative sources - including biofuels and nuclear power - within the next decade.
The government body has an energy target of a Green Strike Group in local operations by 2012 and intends to deploy a Strike Group by 2016 composed wholly of alternatively powered boats.
The 49-ft (RCB-X) Riverine Command Boat was designed for coastal and inland operations and ran on 50 per cent algae-based fuel and 50 per cent NATO F-76 fuel. It reached a speed that surpassed 44 kn.
Riverine was put through various maneuvers, marking the first time a biofueled Navy surface vessel has travelled at full power. There were no problems, The Virginian-Pilot reports.
"Going green is about combat capability and assuring Navy's mobility," said Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, director of the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, which leads the Navy's Task Force Energy.
"It is not just about natural security; it also strengthens national security. By having reliable and abundant alternate sources of energy, we will no longer be held hostage by any one source of energy, such as petroleum,” he noted, reports WAVY.
"First and foremost, energy conservation extends tactical range of our forces while also preserving precious resources. Our goal, as a Navy, is to be an 'early adopter' of new technologies that enhance national security in an environmentally sustainable way," declared Cullom.
Known as "HR-D," or hydro-processed renewable diesel, the fuel is a "drop in replacement" to regular shipboard fuel.
Also, unlike biofuel, HR-D does not include water, an element incompatible for shipboard fuel systems, and does not have the limited serviceable life of biofuels, which is typically six months. A blended hydro-processed renewable diesel fuel, officials informed, guarantees the preservation of the fuel system’s integrity.
Because it is a budding market, algae-based fuel remains expensive compared to petroleum. At the same time, Cullom said that by increasing the demand for such products, the Navy’s programme will help eventually push prices down.
The Riverine has patrolled rivers in the Iraq War. It has a shallow draft and moves at 40 kn.
By Natalia Real