SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- The USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735) (Gold) crew saved nearly 2,000 pounds of plastic in accordance with the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act of 1987 during their last Western Pacific patrol.
The act requires all submarines to cease all discharges of plastics waste at sea after December 31, 2007 unless required for the safety of the ship or health of the crew.
"Bringing the plastic back saves the marine environment," said Chief Culinary Specialist (SS) Bryan Syster. "This is just the Navy doing its part in saving the environment. Previous patrols, we were only required to save the plastics 20 days from port, but now the entire patrol has to be plastic-free."
In order for Pennsylvania to store and keep the plastics aboard the ship, they used odor-barrier bags, which hold approximately 40 pounds of compacted plastic in a heat-sealed bag until they can offload for proper disposal upon the completion of their patrol.
"I'm an avid nature enthusiast and I hate walking around and seeing garbage everywhere and this is our way helping to support the environment," said Culinary Specialist Seaman (SS) Jason Hilyard. "Once we got used to it, it was easy."
One way the crew reduced the amount of plastic aboard was to get rid of plastic packaging before they left. They also used metal or glass containers instead of plastics.
"It took a lot of extra effort from what we were doing, but I think overall it's a good thing and I hope this practice becomes the norm for submarines," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SS) Douglas Landis.
Sailors aboard Pennsylvania had to sort through all trash created and separate all the plastic from biodegradable trash.
Pennsylvania was the first submarine to go underway under this regulation and some of its Sailors believe this is just another step in ensuring the planet's future.
"I find it very uncomfortable when I'm walking down a beach and I find a bunch of plastic or garbage on the beach," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SS) Daniel Spencer. "To me, this is my way of helping me, my family and future generations of enjoying the nature. I feel this was 100 percent successful with this patrol."
For more news from Commander, Submarine Group 9, visit www.navy.mil/local/csg9.