By Rear Adm. Rick Williams
Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
RIMPAC Task Force Energy and Environment Commander
Reliance on fossil fuels and foreign sources of energy puts our nation and Navy at risk. Task Force Energy and Environment during this Rim of the Pacific Exercise in and around Hawaii is demonstrating how we can move away from foreign/fossil fuels, minimize energy use and reduce risk – including vulnerabilities to the maritime supply chain.
In doing so, we are building on the success from RIMPAC 2012’s demonstration of the Great Green Fleet, and we are supporting Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations goals. This is a team effort in RIMPAC and includes not only stakeholders in other departments and branches of the military, but also partners and friends from other nations.
Warfighting First. We need secure, stable and safe energy supply to support our mission to conduct prompt and sustained combat operations, wherever, whenever. History teaches us that wars – including World War II here in the Pacific – can be started over access to oil or other resources.
During this RIMPAC, we are aligning our efforts with other commands and other nations. We are using new technologies, including unmanned aerial vehicles; developing better predictors; and continuing to use incentives for saving fuel.
Commander, Destroyer Squadron 31 is conducting an experiment at sea to measure energy savings using fuel-efficient platforms and innovative strategies.
Operate Forward. Conserving energy and using renewable sources of energy creates sustainability. When our deployed ships, aircraft and forces are self-sustained they are able to go farther, stay on station longer, and be more flexible with more endurance. More power to ‘em!
At last week’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) portion of the RIMPAC 2014 exercise at Ford Island, Hawaii, the team used wind power, field tents with built-in solar and other alternative energy options, along with a lot of smart ways to conserve. The team deployed 11 different systems to generate 329 kilowatts per hour a day, which offset diesel fuel use by 37 gallons a day.
Renewable energy sources were the sole source of power for the HA/DR Logistics Support Area (medical, galley, admin, berthing), and 100 percent of power requirements were met. Imagine what that means for HA/DR in the field.
Be Ready. One reason we conserve energy is because it reduces costs, which continue to go up as the supply of non-renewables goes down. Most importantly, higher costs siphon resources away from training, equipping and otherwise taking care of our Sailors.
In other words, saving energy saves money and indirectly saves lives. We are less at risk – we are more ready – when we save energy.
Energy security reduces greenhouse gases and is tied to environmental stewardship, and both are important in building cooperation with other nations, which supports the purpose of RIMPAC – to strengthen international maritime partnerships, enhance interoperability and improve the readiness of participants.
Working together, we proved we can have a positive impact in improving our energy security. This was a team effort throughout Navy Region and MIDPAC, with U.S. Army Pacific partners and Naval Facilities and Engineering Command, Hawaii, among others.
Our Task Force Energy and Environment, under Commander, U.S. Third Fleet’s command and control during RIMPAC 2014, is using new technologies, finding new techniques and achieving a “new normal” to set the stage for the sailing of the Great Green Fleet in 2016. We are reducing reliance on fossil fuels and foreign sources of energy and making our Navy and nation stronger and more protected.
To everyone associated with Task Force Energy and Environment in Hawaii: Thank you for doing your share when called upon to conserve energy and move forward in support of greater energy security.