Skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Navy Going Green

Audio

The Navy is working to meet an ambitious goal of launching a “Green Strike Group” of ships powered by alternative fuels by next year. The service wants to cut down on its dependence on fossil fuels.

The Department of Defense is the world’s largest consumer of energy. Its energy bill is more than $20 billion a year and most of that goes to pay for foreign oil.

The Navy is working to meet an ambitious goal of launching a “Green Strike Group” of ships powered by alternative fuels by next year. The service wants to cut down on its dependence on fossil fuels.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Jackalyne Pfannenstiel spoke at a defense-related business breakfast in San Diego this week. She said the Navy is finding that some biofuels work in existing ships.

“We’ve been testing the algae-abased bio fuels in ships,” she said. “We started with the small Riverine craft and we are starting to test on larger ships.”

Last year an F/A 18 Jet dubbed the “Green Hornet” and a Sea Hawk helicopter successfully flew on a 50/50 mix of traditional jet fuel and a crop-based biofuel made of a weed called camelina, similar to mustard seed.

“The alternative fuel has to be invisible to the operator,” Pfannenstiel said. “What we call a drop-in fuel, able to be used in the existing platform by the existing operator.”

Nuclear energy currently powers aircraft carriers and submarines and makes up 16 percent of the Navy’s energy consumption, Pfannenstiel said. Though the Navy is working on smaller nuclear units, she explained, they are unlikely to be licensed for use on smaller vessels in the near future.

The Navy’s first hybrid vessel, the amphibious assault ship the USS Makin Island, was commissioned in 2009 and is home ported in San Diego

The Navy’s goal is to launch a Green Carrier Strike group, with all ships and aircraft running on biofuel, nuclear or hybrid electric power by 2016. Pfannenstiel said she doesn’t know yet if it will sail out of San Diego Bay.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.