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News | June 2, 2016

U.S. Navy Promotes Energy, Environment during Fleet Week New York

By Bobbie A. Camp U.S. Fleet Forces Command

U.S. Fleet Forces Command's "Stewards of the Sea: Defending Freedom, Protecting the Environment" static exhibit was showcased during Fleet Week New York aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), in Manhattan, Times Square, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, and New Jersey's Liberty State Park.

This is the second year Stewards of the Sea has been a part of FWNY events. The main focuses for this year's exhibit included the Great Green Fleet -- one of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus' key energy goals for 2016 -- and the promotion and support of the public understanding of ongoing environmental planning and permitting actions for Atlantic Fleet training and testing activities. These activities are conducted in the seaspace and airspace over the Atlantic Ocean, the eastern coast of North America, portions of the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. 

"Despite the Navy's commitment to environmental stewardship, some members of the public have a misperception about our efforts," said Tracy Riker, environmental resources and planning section head for USFF's Fleet Environmental and Readiness Division. 

In order to improve public understanding of the Navy's environmental stewardship efforts, USFF developed an environmental outreach strategy about the Navy's environmental policy and efforts, designed to develop an increase in support for Navy training and basing activities among the public and scientific and regulatory communities.

"Our environmental outreach mission is to increase general public awareness and support for the Navy and Fleet Forces' activities through effective outreach activities, including environmental education," explained Riker. "Overall, the loss of training opportunities and ranges would cause mission and warfighting readiness to be severely degraded."

Quartermaster 3rd Class Darian Pearson, of Morganton, North Carolina, was one of the subject matter experts who volunteered to be part of the exhibit at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. His job aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) is to focus on navigation and communications while standing watch on the bridge. The bridge is where his team is in charge of being the eyes of the ship, including when whales are spotted.

"We document them," said Pearson. "We'll mark the latitude and longitude of where the whale is and will broadcast to any other ships that whales are in the area."

Navy ships are required to employ protective measures to avoid harm to marine species, and are advised to avoid approaching any whale head on. Ships will maneuver to keep at least 1,500 feet away from any observed whale.

"We will launch our helicopters to get eyes on the whales if they are spotted, especially when we are firing live weapons," explained Pearson. "If the whales are within our firing area, we will stop the shoot immediately, move away from the whales and contact the proper authorities."

In addition to Navy lookouts, ship personnel are required to separate different types of garbage. Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jeffrey Harrison, from Cantonment, Florida, also assigned to Farragut, prepares meals for approximately 320 personnel. He explained how trash from the ship's mess decks gets properly disposed. 

"We have three separate trash cans that are designated for food waste, metal, and plastic in the galley -- which is our kitchen -- and we have the same three on the mess decks," said Harrison. "Each division is supposed to separate their own trash within their own work spaces. Then they bring it down to the trash room [to be processed]."

Shipboard-generated plastic waste, which is illegal to dump overboard, is bagged and melted down into discs weighing about 50 pounds each. The discs are then easily stacked and stored until the ship pulls into port, where they are transported to a landfill. Food waste is pulped and then dispersed into the ocean, while metal and glass are shredded.

Sailors such as Pearson and Harrison who live and work on a destroyer are also utilizing energy-saving technologies that can help the ship go farther, stay on station longer and be ready for operational tasking for a longer period without having to refuel. These technologies include solid-state lighting, a stern flap that improves fuel economy, and periodic underwater hull cleanings which save up to 18 percent of fuel while the ship is underway. 

Farragut has also received the highest level of readiness ratings possible for shipboard oil waste and collection, holding and transfer (CHT) system procedures. 

Along with energy practices aboard ships, the Department of the Navy has launched the Great Green Fleet, which is a yearlong initiative that demonstrates its efforts for transforming energy use. The centerpiece of the GGF is a carrier strike group that deploys on alternative fuels. USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group deployed in January with its ships operating on an advanced biofuel blend.

"These alternative fuels are called drop-in fuels since we don't have to modify the engines or the tanks for ships or aircraft," said Lt. Cmdr. Paul Noel, a public affairs officer assigned to USFF. 

The alternative fuels are a mix of traditional petroleum and advanced biofuel, and must be cost competitive with conventional fuels. By 2020, the Navy's overall goal is to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by 50 percent.

"It is becoming a way of life for many of our Sailors, not only to recycle, but to also conserve energy," concluded Noel. "It's really the new norm in the Navy."

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