This Friday, Oct. 22, I will have the honor of witnessing the first U.S. Navy public demonstration of a Riverine Command Boat (RCB) operating on alternative fuel. This alternative fuel initiative directly supports the Secretary of the Navy’s efforts to reduce the fleet’s reliance on fossil fuels. The alternative fuel being tested is a blend of 50 percent algae-based/50 percent NATO F-76 shipboard fuel.
For those unfamiliar with an RCB, it’s an impressive vessel used by the outstanding Sailors of the Navy Expeditionary Command to protect the rivers and tributaries of the brown-water Navy. The RCB’s sleek 49’ foot-long profile, which can reach speeds of 40-knots, provides the Navy an effective warfighting platform that can effectively navigate in the challenging shallow littorals.
As the Director of the U.S. Navy’s Energy and Environmental Readiness Division, I’m inspired by the expertise and diligence of the engineers and scientists that make up the Navy Fuel Certification Team. These hard working individuals are leading the way to evaluate the fuel systems/protocols/standard operating procedures that support two of the five Secretary of the Navy’s energy goals.
The first goal calls for the Navy to demonstrate a Green Strike Group in local operations by 2012 and deploy a strike group, the “Great Green Fleet,” composed entirely of alternatively powered ships by 2016. The second goal directs the Navy to use alternative fuels and energy to meet 50% of our total requirement.
Once the RCB 50/50 algae fuel test and evaluation efforts are complete, the results will be used by the Navy to certify this blended fuel as a drop-in replacement to the standard NATO F-76 used by our larger surface combatant ships. Ultimately, using U.S.-grown alternative fuels means less dependence on foreign energy sources which strengthens our energy security and enhances our energy independence.