In the early 1900s, the US Navy launched the Great White Fleet, sending 16 battleships and their escorts around the globe to demonstrate its reach and abilities. Next week, the Great Green Fleet will launch its first ships, a carrier strike group running on either nuclear power or a mix of biofuel and fossil fuels.
"The 'Great Green Fleet' highlights how the Navy and Marine Corps are transforming our energy use to increase our combat capability, operational flexibility and resiliency so that we can go farther, stay longer and deliver more firepower," Navy spokesman Lt. Chika Onyekanne said in a statement obtained by Military.com. "The centerpiece of the Great Green Fleet will be a carrier strike group scheduled to deploy using alternative energy and energy efficiency technologies and operational procedures as part of its normal planned operations and exercises."
The first ships of the Great Green Fleet will be from Carrier Strike Group 3, led by the nuclear-powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis. This flotilla is only the first part of a larger initiative, announced by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus in 2009. The ultimate goal here is for half the Navy's power to come from alternative fuels by 2020.
This is far from the first time the Navy has turned to alternative fuels, though. During the 2012 Rim of the Pacific exercise, 40 ships, six subs, and 200 aircraft used a mix of biofuel and alternative fuels. But where Congress lambasted that demonstration because of the cost – the 450,000 gallons of biofuel used during RIMPAC cost about $26 a gallon – Carrier Strike Group 3's biofuel is far more affordable. According to a report from Biofuels Digest obtained by Military.com, the Defense Logistics Agency only paid about $2.05 a gallon for the 78 million gallons of biofuel that will power CSG3 and future Great Green Fleet ships.