By MC1 (SW/AW) John Smolinski,Staff Writer
U.S. Fleet Forces Command hosted a Fleet Energy Training Forum for more than 270 senior leaders and command representatives from Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville (Jax), Naval Station (NS) Mayport and Naval Submarine Base (NSB) Kings Bay at Dewey’s Grand Ballroom aboard the installation Nov. 6.
Featured speakers for the event included Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment), Dennis McGinn; Chief of Naval Operations, Director of Energy and Environmental Readiness (OPNAV N45), Rear Adm. Kevin Slates; and U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Director of Maritime Headquarters, Rear Adm. Bradley Gehrke.
“This forum is to show how we are transitioning from a ‘save energy if you can’ attitude to a ‘save energy unless you cannot,’” said Gehrke.
Slates added that this event is a great opportunity to bring together all the different parts of our Navy community and highlight the importance of energy conservation.
“This is all about improving our war fighting capability and our operational effectiveness,” said McGinn.
“There is nothing that happens in our Navy and Marine Corps team that does not rely on energy. We have to continue to improve our energy efficiency, so that we can be ready whenever the president calls on us.”
McGinn stated that fuel consumption is one of the most important areas of interest for energy conservation.
For aviation commands, looking for ways to cut fuel use is a top priority.
“If you look at what we are doing in the P-8 program, for instance,” said Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11 Capt. Sean Liedman, “We have invested in training simulation which allows us to move a lot of our training out of the aircraft and into simulators. This has enabled us to burn less fuel, save on the maintenance of our aircraft and save energy and dollars all around.”
Area commands are looking for innovative ways to improve daily operations without sacrificing the mission.
“What I look for are win-win scenarios where we are conserving energy and also providing some other benefits,” said NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Roy Undersander.
“For example, we have completed a water conservation project where we have rerouted all discharge water that used to go into the St. Johns River, and now we use it to water the grass areas, including the golf course. This has allowed us to turn off power to a well that has only one purpose . . . to water the grass.”
The forum consisted of morning sessions focused on issues such as how to change the operational energy culture; what is the vision, strategy and guidance of the secretary of the Navy; and how to train, execute and assess energy usage.
Leaders of a variety of Navy warfare communities made presentations, including Naval Air Forces, Naval Surface Forces, Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, Military Sealift Command, Submarine Forces, and Navy Region Southeast.
The afternoon sessions consisted of breakout training with individual operational and shore commands.
“The purpose of the breakout sessions is a way to connect the producer of the policies to the consumers or operators,” said Joseph Murphy, deputy chief of staff, Fleet Installations and Environmental Readiness, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
“This will enable individuals to get a chance to communicate each other’s needs and hopefully get a better solution delivered to the Fleet, rather than just something engineered in Washington that does not meet the needs of the waterfront.”
“As a representative of Secre-tary Mabus,” said McGinn, “It is absolutely essential that we get out here and talk to the fleet and understand what the energy challenges we face are and to look for opportunities to get direct feedback on the policies we set for the Department of the Navy in Washington.”
As part of the forum, McGinn presented a Platinum Level Secretary of the Navy Energy Award to Naval Station Mayport and gold level awards to NAS Jacksonville and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.
“I expect us all to walk away from this forum, not satisfied that we got a check in the box for energy training,” said McGinn.
“But rather that people really think in different ways, armed with new knowledge, of how to be better energy warriors.”