I don’t normally quote Mother Jones Magazine. I don’t normally go to Mother Jones, for that matter, for descriptions of aircraft carrier landings. And yet, guess what I have here:
I’M STRAPPED INTO my backward-facing seat on a COD, or “carrier onboard delivery” plane, the US Navy workhorse that ferries people, supplies, and mail to and from its aircraft carriers at sea. I cinch the four-point harness holding me in place. Then I cinch it some more. When it’s as tight as it can go, an aircrewman walks by and yanks it so hard it squeezes the breath out of me. The hatch closes. Steam rises from the floor. Shit. I’ve watched the YouTube videos. I know what’s coming. Takeoff, a 30-minute flight, then landing on the USS Nimitz, decks pitching, plane wings waggling, tailhook dangling from the underside of the aircraft to catch one of four arresting cables stretched across the flight deck.
It is almost, quite nearly, Top Gun-ish. The actual article is on the Great Green Fleet. For that, I just engaged my yeah yeah yeah reflex.
I love how “senior leadership” forced the Great Green Fleet on the Navy. Along with the deal, we were mandated into buying $26-a-gallon gas. And after all of that, the name-blame begins:
But the Navy may be its own worst enemy in this mission. In an in-depth piece called “How the Navy’s Incompetence Sank the ‘Green Fleet‘, Noah Schactman describes the Navy’s dependence on an uncertain fuel source and the havoc fluctuations in the oil markets have wrecked on the military’s long-term financial planning.
I went aboard the USNS Henry J Kaiser when she was docked in North Island*. She’s a great ship, an oiler and all, but I have a hard time believing that the $26-a-gallon fuel she carries is better than the $3.60 fuel the Navy normally uses:
A U.S. Navy oiler slipped away from a fuel depot on the Puget Sound in Washington state one recent day, headed toward the central Pacific and into the storm over the Pentagon’s controversial green fuels initiative.
In its tanks, the USNS Henry J. Kaiser carried nearly 900,000 gallons of biofuel blended with petroleum to power the cruisers, destroyers and fighter jets of what the Navy has taken to calling the “Great Green Fleet,” the first carrier strike group to be powered largely by alternative fuels.
Conventionally powered ships and aircraft in the strike group will burn the blend in an operational setting for the first time this month during the 22-nation Rim of the Pacific exercise, the largest annual international maritime warfare maneuvers. The six-week exercise began on Friday.
The Pentagon hopes it can prove the Navy looks as impressive burning fuel squeezed from seeds, algae and chicken fat as it does using petroleum.
But the demonstration, years in the making, may be a Pyrrhic victory.
What the hell are we doing?
* I was at work and realized: I did not go aboard the Kaiser, but two other ships of the same class. Great boats. . .