US Navy launches first biofuel-powered ship

The first ever US Navy ship to run on an alternative fuel blend as part of its regular operations, has been deployed from California.

The USS Stockdale departing Naval Base San Diego

The USS Stockdale departing Naval Base San Diego

The USS Stockdale, began its deployment on Wednesday, powered in part by alternative fuel made from waste beef fat provided by farmers in the Midwest.  

The fuel blend powering the USS Stockdale – an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer – was purchased through a partnership between the Department of the Navy and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aimed at making alternative fuel blends a regular part of the military's bulk operational fuel supply.

The deal is part of a US Navy initiative known as the Great Green Fleet, which aims to highlight how the Navy and Marine Corps are using energy efficiency and alternative energy to increase combat capability and operational flexibility. 

"When it comes to power, my focus has been about one thing and one thing only: better warfighting," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

"The Great Green Fleet shows how we are transforming our energy use to make us better warfighters, to go farther, stay longer and deliver more firepower. In short, to enable us to provide the global presence that is our mission."

Agressive expansion

The USS Stockdale was deployed as part of the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, which was described as the 'centrepiece' of the Great Green Fleet initiative.

The Strike Group uses energy conservation measures such as stern flaps, LED lights and alternative fuel in the course of its normal operations. The Navy said that other ships, aircraft and amphibious forces will be following its example throughout 2016.

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack commented: "The Navy's use of renewable energy in the Great Green Fleet represents its ability to diversify its energy sources, and also our nation's ability to take what would be a waste product and create home-grown, clean, advanced biofuels to support a variety of transportation needs.

"Today's deployment proves that America is on its way to a secure, clean energy future, where both defence and commercial transportation can be fuelled by our own hardworking farmers and ranchers, reduce landfill waste and bring manufacturing jobs back to rural America."

Last year the US Navy announced a 20-year deal to buy solar energy from a 210MW power plant in the Arizona desert, which provides one third of the power required by 14 US naval facilities in California.

Brad Allen


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