MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, along with Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy Joseph M. Bryan and Chief of the Italian Navy Adm. Guiseppe De Giorgi, visited guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) to observe the ship's role in the Great Green Fleet (GGF) initiative, June 16.
During Mabus' visit, Mason, along with elements of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (Ike CSG) and the Italian Navy's Flotta Verde conducted a replenishment-at-sea (RAS) with an alternative fuel blend between Mason and the Italian navy's oiler ITS Etna (A5326). This marks the first time a U.S. Navy warship received biofuels from a partner nation's naval oiler.
"There's really one goal -- sustainability," said Mabus, "There are also strategic goals to it. The main reason for doing this is to make us better warfighters and to make us a better Navy. It's to keep the vulnerability away because fuel can be used as a weapon. It's about having options before you get your fuel and what type of fuel you get. It gives us flexibility and it makes us better at what we do."
In 2009, Mabus announced energy goals to reduce the Department of the Navy's consumption of energy and reliance on foreign oil sources while ambitiously increasing the use of alternative energy sources.
"The RAS is definitely an important event for our country," said Cmdr. Christopher J. Gilbertson, commanding officer of Mason. "To be the first ship to receive biofuels from a counterpart nation, and realize the agreement made two years ago so quickly is significant. Enabling our nation's independence from foreign oil and providing a means for our ships to go farther and stay on station longer in support of our missions is critical."
GGF is a DoN energy conservation initiative that utilizes energy efficient systems and fuels during operational missions to highlight the Navy's commitment to alternative energy as a key factor to combat capability and energy security. Mason recently demonstrated its commitment to energy efficiency by scoring above ship-class average in several key areas of energy efficiency.
Mabus commented the benefits outweigh any cost associated with the initiative.
"A $2.26 per gallon cost for biofuel is a competitive price," said Mabus. "The engines won't notice and it will be as if we were using traditional fuels."
Mabus continued to say the side effects include "a smaller carbon footprint" that continue to make us "better stewards of the environment."
"Ike CSG is focused on energy conservation, whether it be minimizing how many engines are online at a time, using newly installed LED lighting throughout the ship, or using the biofuels provided by the Italian navy," said Gilbertson. "It's great to have that opportunity to be a representative of an initiative that's going to be around for a long time."
Mabus watched the RAS unfold successfully in the pilot house and adjoining bridge wings along with de Giorgi.
"We routinely operate with other navies," said Gilbertson. "It shows our support for their aims, it shows our support for increasing their regional security, and it shows our support for the global good. Working with allies provides greater access to maritime domain, provides greater security in the world's oceans, and allows commerce to flow more freely."
"It's what we do," said Mabus. "Presence. We're where we need to be and when we need to be there. We're growing our fleet and we're doing it pretty dramatically -- 308 ships by 2021. We're going to have that presence. We're not changing the status quo. Not since World War II have we had a dominant Navy keep the sea lanes open for everybody, not just for us, but for every nation on this earth. That's what the United States Navy uniquely gives America."
Mason plans to make a port visit to Italy and hold a reception for several key delegates and representatives to further emphasize the United States' partnership with Italy and its commitment to energy conservation technologies.
"We are absolutely honored to have Secretary Mabus aboard," said Gilbertson. "It speaks volumes about Mason and her crew because they have a great reputation. Secretary Mabus enjoyed his visit and will remember it for a long time. The crew has worked hard for this, spirits are up, and we are looking forward to making our first visit of the deployment in Italy."
Mason, aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)(Ike), guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), and guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) comprised the Ike CSG elements of the Great Green Fleet. The Italian Navy's Flotta Verde consisted of ITS Etna, Italian stealth frigate ITS Cigala (P490), ITS Stromboli AOR, landing platform docks ITS San Giorgio (L9892) and ITS San Marco (L9893), guided-missile destroyers ITS Andrea Doria (D553) and ITS Duilio (D554), and Bergammini-class frigates ITS Bersagliere (F584) and ITS Carlo Margottini (F592).
Along with Mason, Ike CSG consists of Ike, squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 staff, guided-missile cruisers USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and USS Monterey (CG 61), and guided-missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55), USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) and USS Nitze (DDG 94).
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