By Geoff Fein
With the cost of oil continuing to rise and no limit on how high the dollar per barrel figure might go, sailors in the Navy's fleet have begun to take matters into their own hands seeking out ways to cut back on fuel consumption.
One effort touted by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) requires no equipment or large scale investment. It just requires the ingenuity of crews.
The shipboard incentivize energy conservation (i-ENCON) program is an effort where ships are recognized for submitting fuel conservation ideas that show results, Hasan Pehlivan, i-ENCON program manager, told Defense Daily in a recent interview.
Every year ships submit Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Energy Conservation Award write-ups, Pehlivan said. "This is a big incentive program by the SECNAV."
"These write-ups include how they save fuel, how much they save fuel and what actions they took. The i-ENCON team evaluates them," he added. The best ideas from the top eight ships, four ships from each hull configuration, are selected and recommended for the SECNAV's award, Pehlivan said.
According to the Navy, the SECNAV ENCON awards are made annually to ships in two categories:
- Large Hull - Crew of 400 or more and significant energy efficiency
- Small Hull - Crew of less than 400 and significant energy efficiency
Awards include up to $30,000 in cash and an Energy Efficiency Flag. Award winners are authorized to fly the SECNAV Energy Flag for a period of one year, according to the Navy.
All the ideas submitted from across the fleet are eventually listed on NAVSEA energy cards--an energy survey check list--so that the fleet can take advantage of the cost avoidance efforts, he added. Pehlivan routinely holds seminars for commanding officers, chief engineers and executive officers, giving them a high-level brief that provides attendees with ideas for cutting fuel use.
Among the ideas Pehlivan shares are: shutting off the main propulsion system at night when ships are waiting for the next day's mission. By keeping the electric plant operating for what he calls "hotel loads," showers, lights, etc., a ship can see fuel savings of upward of 70 percent.
"It's amazing savings. That's number one," Pehlivan noted. On ships with gas turbine and diesel engines with twin screws, they have the option of using only one scew--one shaft, one propeller, for driving the ship, Pehlivan said. That effort can result in a 50 percent fuel savings.
Cleaning the hull and propeller can result in a significant cost avoidance, he added.
"They have to judiciously be cognizant of this problem. A clean hull gives you a 12 percent cost avoidance. A clean propeller gives you 6 percent cost avoidance," Pehlivan said.
Maintaining machinery also results in fuel savings for ships. "For engineering departments, [they need to] judiciously obey the PMS requirement, preventive maintenance schedule. Obey them, do a good job, that saves them big, too," he added.
Another effort put forth by NAVSEA has been to provide cash incentives to ships for implementing cost avoidance measures, Pehlivan said. There was a recognition some time ago that if there was nothing in it for the ship, crews were less likely to implement the fuel saving ideas,he added.
"The leading fuel conservers among underway surface ships receive special recognition. On average, 100 ships qualify for the cash awards each quarter," according to the Navy.
According to the Guidebook for ENCON, up to half of every dollar saved will be returned to the ship in the form of additional Operating Target (OPTAR) funding.
Pehlivan also teaches ship personnel how to quantify fuel savings. When a ship's captain and chief engineer come to a workshop, they learn how to use the Ship Energy Conservation Assistance Training (SECAT) software, which can provide data on the best optimum transit speed a ship should use, he said.
"It makes life so easy for them. Any time during their journey they know how much fuel they have used, how much is left in the tank, when they need replenishment and how much they need to replenish," Pehlivan said. "Before they had to spend hours, even days, doing hand calculations." According to the Navy, the i-ENCON programs are "projected to save more than 1.14 million barrels of oil in 2008, resulting in a record cost avoidance of more than $157 million."
The most current reporting numbers for second quarter of FY '08, submitted by Pacific Fleet, show that total fuel consumption was 1,276,690 barrels. The total underburn was 14.78 percent of the total fuel consumed, which exceeds the ENCON goal of 10 percent. This 14.78 percent underburn translates in a cost avoidance of 188,696 barrels, or $24 million, according to the ENCON web site.
For the second quarter of FY '08, Fleet Forces Command Fleet, total fuel consumption was 1,106,121 barrels. The total underburn was 14.94 percent of the total fuel consumed, which translates in a cost avoidance of 165,301 barrels, or $21 million, according to ENCON.
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