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The Great Green Fleet

July 25, 2012
Last week the U.S. Navy took part in the 22-nation Pacific Rim training exercises off the coast of Hawaii. Different for the U.S. Navy in this year’s exercise was the fact that its warships and fighter jets were powered by a 50-50 blend of biofuel and petroleum-based fuels. It was the operational debut of drop-in advanced biofuels in the Navy ships and aircrafts and the demonstration proved the green-fuels blend to be safe and effective.

A Reuters article quoted Navy Secretary Ray Mabus who viewed the demonstration as a success: "Those aircraft are flying the way they always do. The ships steamed the way they always do. There was no difference with the fuel."

The Great Green Fleet demonstration is a huge step forward as continued reliance on foreign oil puts U.S. national security at risk and is a major economic drain. Achieving energy security is critical for military readiness and national security, and the domestic advanced biofuel industry can play a huge part in that effort.

  • For every $0.25 rise in the price of jet fuel, the Department of Defense (DoD) must come up with an extra $1 billion annually, which must be diverted from training, maintenance, and other mission-essential programs.

  • This year alone, the $30 increase in oil prices resulted in more than $3 billion in additional, unplanned costs to DoD.

  • The U.S. spends $80 billion annually deploying forces to defend strategic choke points for the international oil market.

A Fuel Fix article quoted Mabus on the issue of biofuels and national security: “The Navy is committed to pursuing alternatives to foreign oil and the whole Navy believes it is critical to our combat capability and to our national security. Our reliance on foreign oil is a very significant and very well recognized military vulnerability, and we are trying to address that vulnerability.”

“The dramatic Navy demonstration involving the Green Fleet and the use of biofuels produced through biotechnology shows the power of American innovation,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “This is not just about advanced biofuels, it is about harnessing the awesome power of American biotech innovation to help make this country stronger and safer and this is a big step forward.”

Check out this Forbes video of a biofueled F/A-18 fighter taking off from the USS Nimitz:

Also view pictures of the demonstration from BIO’s Matt Carr, managing director of policy for the Industrial & Environmental Section, who was present at last week’s demonstration.