Rear Adm. Slates was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps in 1982 upon graduating from Marquette University. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Maryland, and has completed the Fuqua Advanced Management Program at Duke University.
The admiral has had staff tours as the aide to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Logistics (OPNAV N4); assistant chief of staff for Installations and Environment at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejuene; and public works business line operations officer and chief of staff for Naval Facilities Engineering Command. He is a Seabee combat warfare officer, a registered professional engineer, and a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps. Rear Adm. Slates responded to questions in writing in early June.
Q: You indicated in a blog post on Navy.mil in April that your office has received about 50 energy savings ideas from Sailors as well as the general public. What is the process for evaluating the feasibility of an idea?
A: Part of my OPNAV N45 staff is the Navy Energy Coordination Office (NECO), headed by Capt. Jim Goudreau. That branch interfaces with the systems commands (SYSCOMs), the Fleetsfleets, and across OPNAV on a wide range of energy issues on a daily basis, has connections with our schoolhouses for some of the training that’s being developed, and also talks to industry and academia about Navy issues and challenges in the energy realm. When people submit ideas on our website, our NECO and public affairs/outreach teams receive them as an email “form” and take an initial look. The ideas that have the most merit are routed to the appropriate technical folks for further review to see how they might be applicable within the Navy. We also add all the ideas we receive to a matrix and track their status.
Q: The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division issued a Broad Area Announcement asking for measurable improvements toward the Navy’s shipboard energy conservation and carbon footprint reduction needs. Solutions at all levels of development will be considered, ranging from near-term strategies applicable to existing ship classes to those suitable for new construction and future design. Secretary Mabus set a goal of reducing petroleum use in the fleet by 50 percent. Are there other fleet energy reduction goals as well? What kind of energy innovations are you looking for in fleet energy savings?
A: There are several goals that you’re referring to with this question. The goal of reducing petroleum use by 50 percent by 2015 targets our non-tactical vehicle fleet. Achieving this goal involves phasing in hybrid, electric and flex-fuel vehicles. By 2020, we plan to increase our efficiency to reduce energy consumption ashore by 50 percent and afloat by 15 percent. Ashore, any megawatt hour, or MBTU, we save is one we don’t have to buy — which then allows us to spend those dollars on other readiness enablers.
The Carderock Division deals specifically with the afloat fleet, or ships, rather than the non-tactical vehicle fleet. The SECNAV goal for afloat assets aims to increase the use of alternative energy so that, in 2020 and beyond, half of the energy consumed by ships and aircraft will be derived from non-fossil fuel sources. The Navy’s fuel team has been actively evaluating promising advanced fuel technologies to ensure they meet the rigorous military fuel specifications necessary for use by our tactical platforms.
So, through reducing cost, extending range, and limiting vulnerabilities, energy efficiency makes us better warfighters.
Q: Can you provide an update on the progress in operational energy savings in each of these groups: Aviation Working Group, Expeditionary Working Group, Alternative Fuels Working Group and Maritime Working Group?
A: The Navy is reducing energy consumption by adopting technologies and implementing behavioral change. We need officers and Sailors to understand the tactical importance of energy. It is our greatest enabler, but can be a huge vulnerability as well.
Aviation: The Navy’s Air ENCON (energy conservation) program is designed to reduce fuel consumption without impacting combat readiness, tactical proficiency, or safety. The beta phase launched this fiscal year, and the full scale effort is expected to begin in January 2014. The program is spearheaded by Commander Naval Air Forces (CNAF), which is working to collect and standardize best practices at the operational and policy levels from the fleet. Already under evaluation are efforts such as turning off aircraft engines and refueling ashore with tanker trucks instead of “hot refueling,” where at times we currently refuel with engines running.
We’re also using the most fuel efficient settings during cross- country flights and implementing procedures for F/A-18 tankers which could reduce fuel consumption by up to 65 percent. Long-term efforts are underway to improve the efficiency of the F-35 engine as well as to develop a revolutionary engine for the F/A-XX aircraft with both the performance characteristics of a tactical fighter and the fuel efficiency of a commercial airline engine. We are evaluating the use of simulators for a broader range of pilot training — while bearing in mind that many aspects of training have to take place in the air. We’re also looking at our current Training Readiness Matrix to determine where energy-saving changes might be made without impacting training fidelity.
Maritime: A variety of initiatives are underway for cruisers, destroyers, and amphibious ships. Nearly all the Navy’s ships that still use steam boilers for propulsion (landing helicopter dock or LHD 1 class) have been updated with Combustion Trim Loop, a system that optimizes the fuel/air mixture for the boilers and saves over 3,000 barrels per ship per year. More energy efficient lighting (light emitting diode, or LED) is being installed on guided missile destroyers (DDG) and LHDs/landing ship docks (LSDs).
LED lights use less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs, saving on maintenance costs as well as energy. Stern flaps, which improve hydrodynamics and fuel efficiency, are already in place on DDGs and cruisers (CGs), and will be installed on LHD/LSD ships as well. On DDGs, a shipboard energy dashboard will inform the officer-of-the-deck of large energy loads and provide recommendations for more efficient lineups when tactically allowable. DDG hybrid electric drive installations are scheduled to begin in FY16. Hybrid electric drive should save approximately 5,000 barrels per ship per year.
Expeditionary: The Navy is heavily leveraging Marine Corps and Army work in this area. Efforts are currently underway to improve combat effectiveness through increased efficiency in mobile power and expeditionary camp power generation, distribution, and management. As examples, Advanced Medium Mobile Power Systems (AMMPS) and Large Advanced Mobile Power Systems (LAMPS) are replacing older, less energy-efficient generators, and incorporate solar panels and batteries for energy storage. These systems can also save fuel by automating manual tasks for better efficiency. Another example is GPS blade control for construction equipment, which accurately plots dimensions and elevation for excavation/earthmoving projects. This saves fuel by allowing us to complete expeditionary construction projects faster and with greater accuracy, so we avoid rework and can move on to the next project with our limited assets.
Fuels: The Navy continues testing and certification of advanced alternative fuels to expand the available fuel sources that meet military fuel specifications (MILSPEC). This can expand our sources of fuel supply to help mitigate risks from supply disruptions and price volatility. Hydrotreated Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) and Fischer-Tropsch Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (F-T SPK) will likely be incorporated into the (Jet Propellant) JP-5, JP-8, and (military diesel) F-76 MILSPEC by the end of 2013. We are also evaluating fuels from other processes such as Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) and Direct Sugar to Hydrocarbon (DSHC).
The Navy is making this modest investment to become an early adopter of alternative fuels that function as drop-in replacements to conventional petroleum fuel. This can create options for our warfighters and enable us to make a seamless transition to alternative fuels if needed due to disruptions in oil supply. We will only purchase alternative fuels for operational use when they are price-competitive with conventional fossil fuels.
Q: Can you talk about the progress in meeting the Secretary’s goal for shore-based energy usage: by 2020, the DON will produce at least 50 percent of shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources; 50 percent of DON installations will be net-zero?
A: The Navy’s objective is energy security and resiliency across the enterprise. We are seeking to ensure continuity of operations by creating a lighter energy footprint powered by a variety of power sources, reducing vulnerability to power interruption. Additionally, we want to expand our sources of supply to mitigate the effects of volatile energy markets. The Navy is progressing towards SECNAV's goal of producing and consuming 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy sources, and has established the One Gigawatt (1 GW) Task Force to identify, develop, and execute utility scale third third-party financed renewable energy projects.
Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) has developed a standardized process for implementing projects based on the type and function of both the renewable energy resource and the acquisition method necessary to employ the technology. Further progress towards SECNAV's goal will continue into FY14 and beyond as these processes are refined and projects are executed.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to discuss?
A: The human component of the Navy’s energy initiatives is critical to achieving our goals. Technology will only get us part of the way there, so it is critical that Navy officers, Sailors, and civilians change how they use and think about energy. The Navy has approached this culture change requirement from various angles. For one, there’s the education component. At the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), we’ve created energy energy-related master’s programs in policy and engineering to deepen officers’ understanding of energy issues to take back to the fleet. We are also exploring how best to modify our training curriculum for officers, enlisted personnel, and civilians to expand understanding of the importance of energy for combat capability and how individual actions and ideas can help us be more efficient.
Additionally, the Battle ‘E’ award, which recognizes ships for the highest standards in performance readiness and efficiency, now incorporates energy in its criteria.
The Navy has turned to “crowdsourcing” to gather energy ideas. In 2012, the Navy held an energy MMOWGLI (Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet) that presented participants with a hypothetical future energy scenario. Players used the platform to make recommendations for how we could address — or prevent — such an event. This was our first attempt to use this tool to consider energy, and we will incorporate lessons learned from it for future “online/virtual” collaboration initiatives.
As you and I discussed earlier, we get crowdsourced ideas constantly via our website and the Navy Live Blog site. We also leverage social media (Twitter, https://twitter.com/NavalEnergy; Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/TaskForceEnergy) to keep people up to date on our progress and encourage two-way dialogue on energy issues because the people closest to the problem are also the closest to the solution.