I never really got all that worked up about the quasi-political "Green Navy" pet project by the SECNAV. Afterall, I like concept demonstrations on a small scale to try things out. Bio-diesel isn't a new concept for anyone.
That was then; this is now.
We have huge problems with our budget. We are impacting the lives of thousands of our Sailors because we claim to be in a money crunch. In times like these, any normal organization has to take a serious look at where it is spending its money. You have to get rid of most all "fun to have" and get rid of or scale back the balance of "nice to have."
The Navy's experiment with bio-diesel was interesting in a way - behind the technology curve and a bit blinkered - but worth a demonstration just to confirm that military systems can do the same thing civilian systems ... silly, but OK.
Now, I'm afraid, it is out of control. It has become a vanity project, tone-death to the financial crunch that the actual operational side of the military is under. It just jumped the cost-benefit shark.
The Navy – along with its newest ally, the Agriculture Department – announced Monday that they are purchasing nearly a half-million gallons of biofuels for an air-sea military exercise next summer. “Our use of fossil fuels is a very real threat to our national security, and to the U.S. Navy's ability to protect America and to project power overseas,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said.Wholesale.
A quick jog around the calculator shows the deal is costing the government about $26.66 a gallon for the biofuel alone.
Look though - they let the mask slip a bit.
Mabus and Tom Vilsack, the ag boss, said they are buying 450,000 gallons of fuel – for $12 million – from Solazyme and Dynamic Fuels LLC, a joint venture of Tyson Foods, Inc. and the Syntroleum Corporation. Solarzyme's fuel is derived from algae, and Dynamics comes from used cooking oil and animal fat not suitable for food. Mabus added that the fuels, his latest push for a "Great Green Fleet," can be used without engine mods.Who made Van Jones Undersecretary of the Navy? And for the record - the Navy had nothing to do with establishing a market for coal or oil that wasn't already happening. Any economic historian will tell you that.
The deal marks the largest government purchase of biofuel in history, and will be used to power a carrier battle group during next summer's maritime operation off Hawaii (the carrier is nuclear powered, but the other vessels – and the aircraft based on the carrier -- will be using a 50-50 mix of biofuel and standard petroleum products).
The Navy has long been a trendsetter in this area, Mabus noted. “We went from sail to coal in the 1850s, we went from coal to oil in the early part of the 20th century, and we pioneered nuclear in the 1950s.” he said. “And we're going to lead once again by helping establish a market for biofuels.”
"... helping establish a market for biofuels." About as catchy as "Global Force for Good."