Seeing the Light: Shipboard LEDs

Modern lighting improves visibility, saves time and energy, reduces
maintenance and safety risks

By Rear Adm. Kevin Slates
Director, Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division

This week marks the beginning of Energy Action Month, which is a great opportunity to highlight the importance of Navy’s commitment to energy security. While we talk about our energy actions throughout October, Navy is hard at work on initiatives to increase energy efficiency all year long. A great example of this is the light emitting diode (LED) lighting that is being installed on ships.

Intellitube LED Passageway LCS 2If you visit USS Chafee (DDG 90), USS Preble (DDG 88) or USS Independence (LCS 2), you may notice that everything seems brighter within the ships’ interior spaces compared to other ships. That’s because on these platforms — and an ever-increasing number of surface ships and submarines — Naval Sea Systems Command has replaced conventional light bulbs with LEDs that produce better light quality.  That means improved working conditions for Sailors, which is a key benefit. LEDs will enable us to more easily see the details of our work, identify hazards, and perhaps avoid mishaps in previously dark areas of ships that will now be better illuminated. While LEDs are more expensive to buy up front, they save money over the long term and provide other advantages.

For one, these lights last up to five times longer. That means your shipmates will spend up 80 percent less time on ladders and lifts changing out bulbs. An obvious side benefit is that we’ll be able to stock fewer bulbs in our supply rooms, which frees up space for other vital equipment. In terms of focusing on the important things we need to do at sea to make sure the ship and crew are mission-ready, that time saved on tedious maintenance activities will be a major advantage. LED lights are also more durable than regular bulbs, meaning they are less prone to failure due to vibration and temperature fluctuations. Unlike older bulbs, LEDs also contain no hazardous materials — and that means we won’t be exposed to those chemicals when LED bulbs break, which improves safety.

As a final, key benefit that’s closely linked to CNO’s tenets of warfighting first, operate forward, and be ready, LED lights use approximately 50 percent less energy than conventional florescent bulbs. This reduces ships’ electrical load, which in turn extends our on-station time and takes a small bite out of our dependence on oilers at sea.

Be on the lookout for LED bulbs coming to a ship near you. If your ship or sub is among those that already have LEDs installed, let us and NAVSEA know how they’re working out.

If you want more information about how energy affects our mission, check out the Energy Warrior webpage or download the free Energy Warrior app from your app store.

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Seeing the Light: Shipboard LEDs