By Devin Wray and Jonathan A. Colon Mass Communication Specialists 3rd Class, USS Nimitz
PACIFIC OCEAN — The Everett-based nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz is the first ship to receive and test the use of a new blend of hydro-processed renewable jet and aviation fuel on aircraft, as part of the Navy’s Great Green Fleet demonstration during Rim of the Pacific exercises.
The demonstration July 17 is a milestone in the Navy’s effort to improve combat capability through improved energy efficiency measures by investing in advanced, domestically produced biofuels.
“It’s a step towards energy independence,” said Cmdr. Michael Maxwell. “If we can prove that it works for air operations, then we will be able to mass produce it here in the U.S.”
The fuel will be used in multiple aircraft types during the demonstration.
“We expect the fuel to give the same results as any other fuel we use,” Maxwell said. “The only difference is that it will be cleaner.”
The biofuel has been used by shore commands, including the Blue Angels, for about a year. Before the demonstration, Nimitz sailors will test the transfer of the fuel to the ship’s holding tanks to ensure it is effective and causes no changes to the fuel.
“We’ll be the first to test it at sea,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Joshua Palomares, a Nimitz fuel lab technician. “If we can prove it can be used in a multitude of aircraft, this will become the new standard in naval aviation at sea.”
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert visited the Nimitz after the biofuel was loaded. Greenert emphasized the importance of the Navy’s biofuel initiative and its importance for the Navy’s future energy plan.
“Biofuel is made with algae, plants and animal fat,” he said. “We’ll be using a 50-50 mixture of that to show that in fact there is an alternative to petroleum products. We’ve got to look for alternative fuels, we’ve got to look for alternative opportunities, and we’ve got to be efficient in energy.”
Nimitz took on more than 180,000 gallons of hydro-processed renewable jet (HRJ-5) and aviation (JP-5) fuel in preparation for RIMPAC 2012.
Mabus spoke about how biofuels will not change operations.
“We don’t have to change the operations, and we don’t have to change anything that we are doing,” he said. “The fuel is used in exactly the same way, by the same platforms and by the same engines.”
Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC between June 29 and Aug. 3, in and around Hawaii.