Established in the days of wind and sail power by Scots-born American independence commander John Paul Jones, the US navy is making renewed efforts to return (at least in part) to renewable energy.
Often described as the Father of the American Navy, John Paul (he added the ‘Jones‘ later to avoid detection by the British) led the USS Ranger in successfully capturing HMS Drake after an hour-long gun battle in the Irish Sea in 1778 – thereby puncturing the reputation of British naval invincibility.
Earlier in the year, Jones and French Admiral La Motte Piquet had exchanged gun-salutues – the first time that the US Stars and Stripes, the flag of the new nation, was officially recognised by a foreign government.
Now, nearly 250 years later, the US Navy is making a partial return to its renewable-power roots when the USS John C. Stennis Strike Group takes part in the world’s largest international maritime exercise for the 25th annual Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) manouevres using 11.2 million gallons of a 10% alternative fuel blend.
This is the same fuel used earlier this year by the US Strike Group during the first operational deployment of a Great Green Fleet (GGF) strike group. The principles behind the GGF initiative direct the use of energy efficiency measures, to include technologies and operational procedures, and alternative fuel in the course of normal operations.
That exercise met one of the US Defence Department’s five energy goals – ie to demonstrate a Green Strike Group operating on alternative fuel, when US Navy ships and aircraft used 900,000 gallons of a 50-50 blend of renewable diesel and traditional petroleum as a proof of concept.
The US Navy has built three ships called the USS John Paul Jones and a famous John Paul Jones quote – “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way“ – has entered the popular lexicon of American independence.