By Joseph W. Murphy
Deputy Chief of Staff for Environmental and Shore Readiness, U.S. Fleet Forces Command
As Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus pointed out in his recent Foreign Policy Magazine column entitled “Green Water: Can the U.S. Navy Win the Eco Arms Race?,” the U.S. military consumes more energy from fossil fuel than any other organization in the world. With every increase of $1 per barrel of oil adding about $30 million to Navy and Marine Corps energy costs, the Navy must identify energy savings wherever it can find them. It makes fiscal, strategic, operational and tactical sense for us to do so.
Fleet operators are already conscientious about saving energy, but we believe that we can become even more efficient by codifying and institutionalizing operational procedures designed to save energy. In other words, we must transition “best practices” into compulsory fleet-wide action. This is why Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, has directed his type commanders to identify all potential energy-saving operational procedures to achieve energy savings, conduct required vetting and coordination with the Navy’s technical authorities, codify these procedures in force-wide type command directives, provide feedback to training activities and enforce operational procedures through standard inspections and assessments to ensure compliance.
It is crucial to note that nothing regarding the implementation of operational procedures is intended to constrain commanding officers or commanders from taking appropriate actions to meet specific mission tasking, counter anticipated threats, operate safely in congested sea or air space, or overcome the effects of adverse weather. Clearly, there are circumstances where speed, mobility, survivability and responsiveness take precedence over minimizing fuel consumption. The key, however, is that energy-saving practices must evolve from “Save energy when you can” to “Save energy unless you can’t.” Institutionalizing and codifying energy savings throughout the fleet will enable us to continue meeting our national defense mission and fulfilling combatant commander requirements, while conserving vital energy resources and conserving scarce defense dollars that the Navy can apply to other priorities, such as maintenance and modernization.
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