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Logistics and the Maritime Strategy
By Rear Admiral J.E. Miller, U.S. Navy and Lieutenant T.A. Cusntina, U.S. Navy
Some view the maritime strategy solely in the context of global war; regardless, many of the same principles apply to smaller, less intensive conflicts. This is particularly true when it comes to logistics since the Navy’s periodic and fast-paced involvement in containing terrorism and Third World conflicts also calls for flexible and responsive logistics support. Operations in Libya, the Persian Gulf, and the increasing requirements of drug interdiction operations closer to home require focused and flexible support. Navy responses to the many socioeconomic pressures in the southern hemisphere will challenge the logistics system in the years ahead because our logistic infrastructure is sparse.
With sophisticated weapons in the hands of unfriendly Third World nations and terrorist groups, the term “immediate readiness” takes on new importance. Admiral Arlcigh Burke put it this way: “If the equipment doesn't work in battle, it doesn’t make much difference how much else we know, the battle is lost— and so are the people in it.” Thus even in a time of violent peace many of the same principles that are used in logistics considerations for global war are equally applicable.
Throughout history, logistic planning has been largely reactive. We were fortunate that World Wars I and II were fought far from our shores. This provided us the luxury of time to build up our fighting capability along predictable lines of communication. We can no longer assume this will be possible; technology has advanced to the point where supersonic travel and directed energy weapons can shift the balance of power overnight.
Our past experiences in wartime sustainability have not been overlooked by modern commanders. In a recent tactical memorandum that established the Bat- tleforce Logistics Coordinator, the Commander, U.S. Second Fleet said: “Wartime endurance and sustainability of ships at sea is at least on the par of antisubmarine warfare, antiair warfare, or antisurface warfare, since none of these could be accomplished for very long without logistics.” The Falklands Conflict reinforced this axiom and again illustrated the importance of the merchant fleet to sealift in war.
During the Falklands Conflict, the British were forced to create a mobile train of logistics ships because Ascension
Island, the closest staging area, was approximately 3,000 miles from the battle. Merchant ships were modified and used as transports, assault ships, minesweepers, dispatch vessels, tankers, ferries, ammunition and stores ships, repair platforms, hospital ships, and in many other
foies. The modified fleet actually outnumbered the combatants. Although supply was critical, the British combatants were able to stay in the area of action I without returning to base because of the t timely support provided by the logistics ships. Many British and Soviet military historians contend that the logistics triumph of the British merchant fleet is the major reason why England was victorious ' in the Falklands.
Our maritime strategy attempts to deal With the possibility of a rapidly changing military balance. It encompasses flexible and global concepts that can carry the light to the enemy. Speed, sustainability, <» and flexibility are part of this genera- hon’s maritime strategy. While not an °Perational plan in itself, it is a founda- t, hon on which plans and options are being approached. Contained in this foundation are six vital elements of logistics in support of today’s maritime strategy.
First, while we have many material j shortfalls, one is as important as muni- *• 'ions. Munitions—the right types for the I reqired tactics—are the most critical and lime sensitive commodities in the heat of * battle—they are still the single most criti- J cal war stopper. The lead time for our
a srnart weapons compared to those of
World War II vintage is so long that production surges will not immediately affect the outcome of an intense global conflict. We will fight “ come as you are” , Wars.
The second vital element of logistics in
IsUpport of our maritime strategy is strategic airlift for readiness. Airlift must be reliable and it must be available from day °ne—and long before—to move the piv- °tal cargos that will keep our operating force’s daily readiness at a peak. This 'ncludes resupply and technical support f°r high technology weapons and sensors. Strategic airlift must mesh with adequate intra-theater airlift if we are to succeed.
Airlift in support of unexpected crises has proved essential. Operations in the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean special operations off Libya, and the build-up
and sustainment in the Persian Gulf would have been extremely difficult without responsive airlift. Early in the Persian Gulf effort, virtually all non-fuel support for the enlarged Middle East force went by airlift. This was equally true in the deployment of forces to Panama in December 1989. Fortunately, these were isolated events and their airlift requirements were not competing with other urgent requirements around the world.
Strategic sealift, the U.S. Navy’s number three mission, is the third essential element of logistics support for the maritime strategy. Simply put, sealift is the life-blood of sustainable operations. More supplies can be carried by sea for less cost than air transportation. Sustainability in recent conflicts required the extensive use of sealift. During the Vietnam War, priority air shipments of ammunition amounted to only 1% of the total tonnage—the rest went via sealift.1
Our ability to sustain protracted and massive operations far from our shores is vital. To do this, we need a sufficient and capable combat logistics force—combat stores ships, ammunition ships, replenishment oilers, tenders, and repair ships. We also require access to civilian owned or manned commercial cargo ships, including ships equipped with basic replenishment capabilities.
Dismantling our merchant fleet is a major concern because it jeopardizes our long term sustainment capability. Overall, the nation is in extremis for a major conflict in terms of national sealift capability, even though current strategic sealift programs give us a modest early surge capability. The recently created unified transportation command must obtain necessary strategic transportation assets and ensure their proper integration into our forces.
The fourth element is a focused and integrated mix of host nation support, advanced base functional components, pre-positioned assets, and trained reserve forces. It is essential to establish a responsive logistics pipeline capability to
The U.S. Navy practically invented sea-based logistics—but operations in the Persian Gulf and the North Arabian Sea strained assets. CH-46s operating from forward sites airlifted supplies—flown in by the Air Force—to the USS White Plains (AFS-4), shown sailing with her deck locked by cargo.
repair our ships and aircraft concurrent with the initial deployment of naval forces. In addition, we must have the ability to tend the wounded in areas where a United States military support infrastructure is limited or nonexistent.
The fifth vital element of logistics in support of our maritime strategy is training. We must exercise our fleets in parts of the world not visited on a daily basis in peacetime, but essential for any sustained conflict. The northern latitudes are one example. We must understand how to operate and fight in this cold climate. Many issues relating to cold weather must be resolved. How does sub-zero weather affect the performance of our newest weapons? How many extra calories will the crew need to consume?
The final key element of logistics in support of our maritime strategy is planning. Navy commands must hone their skills through participation in joint logistics planning. This includes pre-conflict transportation requirements, refinement of logistic data and planning factors, and establishing host nation agreements for support of the operational commander’s tactical options. In addition, logistic plans and capabilities must be validated in wargames and fleet exercises. It is important that shortfalls be identified to the operational commanders to facilitate proper tactical decisionmaking.
The U.S. Atlantic Fleet has been aggressively pursuing a forward logistic strategy in the event of war. Such a strategy will be essential to support operations in areas where the United States has limited or no peacetime infrastructure such as the northern Atlantic area of responsibility. Political changes in Europe notwithstanding, the area remains important to the Western alliance. Just as importantly, it is a model for other areas where the United States has little presence. Unlike the Mediterranean and western Pacific areas, where a peacetime infrastructure exists and is used for fleet support on a daily basis, there is no infrastructure set up in the northern Atlantic—either for peacetime training or for sustaining operations in the event of war. Only adequately planned and arranged logistics provide our forces with a rapid and credi-
ble support structure.
Forward logistics is the integration of numerous capabilities to support operational forces in austere expeditionary environments. The most important capabilities are advanced logistic support sites (ALSS), forward logistic sites (FLS), medical care, ship and aircraft battle damage repair, and prepositioned fuel and ammunition. An advanced logistics support site is the primary transshipment point for fleet support in the theater of operations. It can store, stage, consolidate, and transfer supplies, and can support forward-based personnel, including replacements.
In the case of the Persian gulf, politically oriented decisions delayed needed augmentation to intratheater capability for cargo handling and onward movement and jeopardized critical supply support in the early days of the force buildup. We cannot allow this if we are to achieve continuous readiness in future expeditionary logistic environments.
Forward logistics sites include air and sea ports of debarkation; they are established as far forward as feasible to permit forward staging of services, throughput of high priority cargo, advanced maintenance, and intermediate level battle damage repair by tenders or host nation facilities. The forward sites are linked to the major ALSS by intratheater air and sealift, and serve as a transshipment point for high priority cargo.
The first step in developing this concept was to validate forces to be supported, potential locations of conflict, and options for employment. Two consecutive Atlantic Fleet tactical command readiness program wargames—TCRP 36 and 37—in 1988 were used to test this strategy at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.
The wargames were designed to examine logistic issues and identify problems resulting from the stress of a prolonged campaign in the Atlantic. Twenty flag officers and 200 personnel from various major Army, Navy, and Air Force commands were immersed in an exercise that spanned the timeframe D-42 to D + 90.
Many issues relating to key logistic areas were examined during the exercise.
It became apparent that early movement of logistics—prior to the outbreak of hostilities—is vital to our readiness and sustainability in a logistically austere environment. The wargames also tested the influence of sustainability data on tactical decision making. As a result, operational commanders were forced to revise their tactics. This action reinforced what Rear Admiral Henry E. Eccles said thirty years ago when referring to the importance of coordinating logistics with plans and tactics: “Logistics plans are so vital—so ambient—so all pervasive that they can be considered to be the common denominator of all plans. If any military plan is to be realistic, logistic considerations and logistic plans must be interwoven with national, strategic, and tactical plans at all levels of command.”
The Naval War College considers TCRP 36/37 the most significant U.S. Navy logistics wargame to date. As a result of this wargame and fleet exercises, our logistic strategy and wartime sustainability have been strengthened. Problems have been solved, lessons learned, and comprehensive pre-conflict logistics check lists have been included in operational plans.
Protecting sea lines of communication: Events in Eastern Europe may well alter the Navy’s mission. Regardless, “the Navy provides strategic and conventional deterrence worldwide,” as Admiral Carlisle A.H. Trost said. Exactly when the United States might be required to respond to a large regional conflict or a global war is uncertain—hopefully, the prospects are diminishing. We can, however, still use an outbreak of hostilities in Europe as an example of staggering logistic requirements. Half a million people, almost four million tons of sea-delivered military cargo, and 171,000 tons of air-delivered cargo would be required for the reinforcement and resupply of Europe in the first 90 days. In addition, approximately 100 million tons of economic cargo would be needed by sea each month. European survival would depend on the arrival of a continuous stream of supply ships transiting the Atlantic via the sea lines of communication (SLOC). Loss of merchant shipping to the enemy would make the defense of Europe untenable.
Besides stressing the need for thorough planning and the early flow of logistics, wargames and fleet exercises point to the need for comprehensive wartime host nation support and organization of selected Naval Reserve units. Additional negotiations for host-nation support to supplement and improve existing agreements in the Atlantic area of responsibility are nearing completion. Finally, Naval Reserve units supporting the Commander, Second Fleet and Commander, Strike Fleet have been reorganized to man the new infrastructure; priority manning was assigned to those Naval Reserve units that provide core support to the battle groups.
The industrialized nations of NATO are dependent on maritime trade for importing much of their raw materials. In recent decades, oil has assumed a top priority. Without it, the economic and warfighting capability of a modem industrialized nation would be severely reduced.
Because oilers are vulnerable to enemy attack at choke points, protection of these ships should be a major NATO concern. Our capability to protect economic shipping in the event of a future war however, is questionable.
During World Wars I and II, the Allies learned through trial and error that convoys were the safest way to move cargo overseas, protect merchant shipping, and destroy enemy submarines. Alternate methods for protection of shipping were eventually abandoned when losses from enemy submarines became too costly.
Unfortunately, convoying in future conflicts will be employed only when the threat dictates. Initially, independent sailing would be the modus operandi. As the threat increased, shipowners would he encouraged to consign their vessels to voluntary naval control of shipping. If they agreed, naval control of shipping officers would board ships in port to explain the organization and obtain the latest operational information to plan sailing routes. If merchant ship losses increased, the naval control of shipping organization (NCSORG) would unilaterally assume full control of U.S.-flag shipping. (See Naval Control of Shipping: A Reserve 'Mission,’ ’ Naval Institute Proceedings, April 1990, p. 112, for more on NCSORG.) Today, it would take only a few merchant losses to reach that threshold. Given the size of commercial ships, ■ncreased speed and improved onload and offload capability, fewer ships would have to be sunk than in World War II to affect our ability to wage war.
Options available for protection of shipping under full naval control of shipping include routing independent merchant ships, protecting sea lanes, convoying, or some combination of these options. One drawback to protected lanes and convoying however, is the requirement for air or sea assets that might not be available.
Our Atlantic strategy to counter a Soviet Warsaw Pact threat is one of forward defense and containment. Simply stated, °ur best opportunity to defeat the Soviet
Navy, defend the northern flank of NATO, and maintain our unbroken link with Europe is by the early movement of naval forces to the northern sector of the Atlantic. If we can do this, our forces will be in position to fight and contain the majority of the Soviet Navy in waters north of the Atlantic sea lines of communication (SLOC). In short, there will be no need to form convoys because European resupply would be relatively secure from naval threat. Given the importance of this strategy, number of escorts and current military budget reductions, it is unlikely that adequate escorts would be available to protect the SLOCs. Admiral Lee Baggett, Jr., then Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) summed it up as follows: “The best defense of vital SLOCs is an array of ASW (antisubmarine) surface ships, maritime patrol aircraft and submarines . . . however, we have a major shortfall in the quantity of forces available, particularly in frigates and destroyers—approximately 50%, and MPA (maritime patrol aircraft)—approximately 25%. ”2
If resupply of Europe is to be secured, more emphasis on protection of SLOCs is required. To ignore this detail invites destruction of merchant shipping and the isolation of Europe.
To protect the SLOCs, support for naval forces in the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea is crucial. Our reliance on host-nation support and properly trained reserve units to man forward logistic sites is critical. In contrast to previous wars, we would not have the luxury of a deliberate build-up period before activating resupply pipelines.
The future of logistics: It is not enough that operational logistics planners—those dealing with port capabilities, strategic lift, shuttle lift, in-theater support services, forward battle damage repair, medical support, and battle force logistics—must deal with deliberate planning and defined strategies. They must look at optional scenarios envisioned conceptually in the maritime strategy and plan for a wide range of scenarios. Operational logisticians must work closely with commanders to ensure their requirements and options are understood before war breaks out. This reinforces Eccles’s philosophy when he was head of the Department of Logistics at the Naval War College. In referring to the need for a complete integration of strategy, logistics, and tactics he wrote: “It is essential that logistics plans be prepared concurrently with strategic and tactical plans.”
A look at the past provides insight for the future. Operational logistics today are similar to the past in terms of sustainability but will require much earlier, and more flexible response. We must meet the challenge to ensure the next war is not fought with obsolete logistics. Today’s geo-political environment, high technology, weapons, and nuclear munitions, dictate that we must get there, not only first with the most, but with enough flexibility in our logistics strategy to be responsive to our fast-paced and flexible operational strategy.
With reference to global war, Admiral Trost recently indicated that the basis for deterrence is the creation of doubt in the enemy’s mind as to what we would be capable of achieving if he breaks the peace. Logisticians have a large responsibility in this regard to ensure that any potential enemy realizes that our logistics support capability is credible. Today, logistics is an indispensable ingredient of our war planning and survival. As the CNO put it, “Logistics wins wars.” 'VAdm. Edwin Bicford Hooper, USN, (Ret.), Mobility Support Endurance, (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972), p. 255.
Adtn Lee Baggett Jr., USN, "Security of the Sea Lines of Communications," NATO's Sixteen Nations. February-March, 1988, p. 33.
Rear Admiral Miller is the vice-commander. Naval Supply Systems Command. Previously, he served as director of supply operations and readiness and Fleet Supply Officer on the staff of the Commander-inchief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Lieutenant Cusmina is attending the Naval Postgraduate School and recently served on the Atlantic Fleet staff. He has served on board the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the USS Clifton Sprague (FFG-16).
Coast Guard and Tiltrotor: A Perfect Match
By Lieutenant Commander Dana A. Goward, U.S. Coast Guard
Last August the Senate Armed Services Committee directed the individual service secretaries to investigate further the applicability of the V-22 tiltrotor to military missions. This was done with an eye to forcing the services to exploit the utility of a very versatile craft that has, until recently, been programmed for relatively limited roles. Unfortunately, the one military service that might have the greatest daily need for the special capabilities of a tiltrotor aircraft—and which could prove to play a significant role in transitioning the tiltrotor from its status as military hardware to that of a commercially viable vehicle—was overlooked.
Presumably the requirements and missions of the nation’s smallest armed service, the Coast Guard, were not considered because the service is not normally assigned to the Department of Defense or
The V-22 tiltrotor seems particularly well suited to several U.S. Coast Guard missions. Ironically, the Coast Guard may find itself in the market for an aircraft cancelled by the Defense Department.
because the number of aircraft required was assumed to be too small to have any real impact upon the development and acquisition process. Should V-22 development and tiltrotor technology continue on course, however, the U.S. Coast Guard will undoubtedly replace the majority of its 220-aircraft fleet with tiltrotor craft. In fact, an order of 40 V-22s—or something very similar—may be almost inevitable as early as 1995.
If ever a new technology has been perfectly matched to the existing needs of a military organization, it is the tiltrotor and the Coast Guard. In all three major mission areas—maritime safety, maritime law enforcement, and maritime defense—tiltrotor technology is tailor-made for the Coast Guard.
Maritime safety (search and rescue): Coast Guard aviation’s greatest (and most visible) contribution to the maritime safety area is in search and rescue (SAR). Aviation search-and-rescue operations save over 2,500 lives each year; substantially assist another 8,500 persons; prevent the loss of $500 million in property; and account for 35% of the operational flying done by the service. Use of a tiltrotor in lieu of conventional aircraft will improve the effectiveness of SAR operations while producing substantial savings by reducing the numbers of aircraft, people, and shore stations required today.
Tiltrotor craft will be an improvement over the present fixed- and rotary-wing search and rescue team; the V-22’s speed and endurance—comparable to those of fixed-wing aircraft—will enable a single aircraft to search large areas with maximum efficiency. Instead of being limited by stall characteristics to a minimum search of 120 knots or more, a tiltrotor will be able to vary its search speed from a zero ground-speed hover to about 275 knots at sea level. While searches for small vessels and people in the water from fixed-wing aircraft are now often hit-and-miss as the aircraft rockets through the search area—the HU-25A searches at 250 knots—a tiltrotor will be able to adjust its speed to fit the object of the search. It will be able to identify wreckage and debris, while completing extended over-water search patterns.
No longer will it be necessary for one aircraft to perform the long search while another recovers the survivors. About 90% of all extended SAR involving aviation require both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Use of tiltrotor aircraft will eliminate duplication since one aircraft will now be able to search a shoreline carefully, transit far offshore at high speed, search a large open area, and hoist survivors.
With more than twice the speed and range of most helicopters, tiltrotor craft will be especially effective in providing rapid response to calls for help. This is particularly important in the maritime environment where hypothermia, injuries, and weather often limit the time available to rescue survivors.
Not only will one tiltrotor craft do the jobs of two aircraft better than they are being done now, it will be able to do it from fewer shore establishments.
Twenty-eight Coast Guard air units are located throughout the coastal United States and Puerto Rico. With few exceptions, they are sited near major centers of maritime activity and can respond rapidly to calls for assistance along much of the coast. Most air stations are less than 180 miles apart since the Coast Guard’s goal is to reach the scene of the mishap within 45 minutes of takeoff. In the continental United States tiltrotor aircraft operating from seven fewer air stations will not only meet this goal but improve upon the performance of the current helicopter fleet by 70% or better because of their superior speed. In Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii—where response distances are greater and air stations are fewer— the improvement in effectiveness will approach 100%.
Maritime law enforcement: Coast Guard aviation units support law enforcement operations in four areas:
- Shipboard deployments
- Air intercept
- Enforcement team delivery
With the exception of shipboard deployments, tiltrotor craft will perform these missions at levels of effectiveness and efficiency that equal or exceed those of current systems.
Routine patrol operations are now performed by helicopters, HU-25A fixed- wing aircraft (a version of the Falcon 20), and HC-130 aircraft. Helicopters, limited by range and endurance, are suited to inshore, small patrol areas only. Fixed- wing aircraft, more suited to off-shore, large area patrols are often unable to identify vessels because of their relatively high minimum speed and their limited maneuverability when they are “low and slow.” The shrimping vessel Danny G, for which a special lookout has been posted, may often be reported by a fixed- wing patrol aircraft as just another fishing boat. In contrast, the tiltrotor’s ability to slow down—to a hover, if necessary— would permit it to identify the vessel easily.
Admittedly, the first (or perhaps even second) generation of tiltrotors will probably not be able to match the endurance of the long-range HC-130 patrol aircraft or the high-altitude performance of the HU-25A Falcon fan jet. They will, however, be able to identify vessels, perform inshore and small area searches, and safely patrol the surface in reduced visibility.
Air interception and enforcement team delivery are two aspects of the same mission—the apprehension of aerial smugglers. When a suspect aircraft is detected by radar aboard an E-2C aircraft, a teth- crcd balloon, or a ground radar, an HU- 25A Falcon is launched to intercept, identify, and, if appropriate, follow the aircraft to determine its point of landing, •f the aircraft appears to headed for the continental United States, the pursuit is Passed to the Customs Service or local authorities who continue to follow the aircraft to a landing and make the apprehension. If the landing is offshore—in the Bahamas, for example—the Coast Guard continues the pursuit and notifies a Coast Guard HH-3F helicopter carrying a squad of Bahamian police. The helicopter and jet rendezvous, the helicopter follows the smuggler to a landing, and the Bahamian police squad makes the apprehension.
A tiltrotor aircraft the size of the V-22 wouId eliminate the need for two aircraft to complete the interception and apprehension. Able to carry a squad of police and land anywhere, the tiltrotor would als° eliminate the risk of losing contact when passing the pursuit from fixed-wing to helicopter. Since most aircraft used by smugglers land slowly enough to use un- "riproved fields and small airports and oiaintain less than 180 knots to avoid tnggering a national defense intercept, the tiltrotor’s lack of the HU-25A’s high dash speed should not detract from its mission performance.
Maritime defense: As the Coast Guard and Navy continue to integrate their responsibilities and roles in the coastal Maritime Defense Zone, commonality of equipment and procedures becomes essential. Aside from the exorbitant costs associated with supporting unique aircraft systems, interoperability and effectiveness demand that the Coast Guard and DoD operate the same kinds of aircraft. Thus, Navy E-2Cs have been transferred to the Coast Guard to hunt for aerial drug runners and the Coast Guard’s new large helicopter is the HH-60J, a virtual clone °f the HH-60 bought for combat SAR and the Naval Reserve. Continued integration °f Coast Guard capabilities with defense roles and missions will require common equipment that will serve both peacetime and wartime missions. In Coast Guard jargon, aircraft must be multimission. There is no aircraft that is more multimission than the tiltrotor.
Acquisition of tiltrotor aircraft will allow the Coast Guard to do a better job with fewer aircraft, stations, and people; but even such valid reasons do not always carry the day in Washington—where there are constituencies to protect and special interests to placate. Even so, the acquisition of tiltrotor aircraft by the Coast Guard is inevitable.
First, the substantial savings and increases in effectiveness over current systems will be large enough to serve as effective arguments in budget battles. It is hard to argue effectively against doing more for less when the numbers are overwhelmingly convincing.
Second, the difference in capability between conventional helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft is so great that the Coast Guard will be unable to retain its role as the nation’s premier search and rescue organization without acquiring and operating the craft. What sense would it make to order a Coast guard helicopter to make a rescue 300 miles off shore in bad weather when the DoD unit down the coast has V-22s assigned that can climb above the weather, complete the mission, and return before the helicopter could even arrive on scene?
Third, a Coast Guard tiltrotor is inevitable because the public will demand it. Why should an aircraft as capable as the tiltrotor be reserved for conflicts that may never come when it can be made available for disaster relief, medical evacuation, and other emergencies? One glimpse on the evening news of a tiltrotor rescuing a downed naval aviator 500 miles off-shore will be all that is needed for most fisherman and pleasure boaters to expect the same kind of service.
Timing: Many consider the integration of tiltrotor technology into almost all aspects of aviation inevitable. For the Coast Guard it is, though whether that integration takes places sooner or later will depend upon the foresight and courage of leaders both within the service and in other branches of government. The service’s licet of HU-25A Falcons will be approaching the end of their 20-year lives in 1998. Given budget and procurement lead times, acquisition of a replacement system should start in 1993 with a contract awarded in 1995 or 1996. This will be an excellent opportunity to begin the tiltrotor’s Coast Guard career.
In spite of the unique nature of the V-22 tiltrotor, it is remarkably similar to the HU-25A Falcon in size, range, and sea level performance. While certainly not an identical replacement vehicle, the tiltrotor will be able fill the Falcon’s medium-range search role well.
Additionally, tiltrotor craft will be coming of age as mature systems around the turn of the century. If the V-22 survives the current budget debate, first deliveries to DoD will begin in the early 1990s and the high up-front risks and costs will be behind us. This will be especially important to Coast Guard officials who were repeatedly burned during the 1980s by the “developmental” engines delivered with the HU-25A jet and HH- 65A helicopter.
A Coast Guard tiltrotor purchase will be an important step in integrating this unique technology into all aspects of the nation’s aviation system. Wary of costs and what is seen as unproved technology, many in civil aviation appear content to wait until tiltrotors move out of the Department of Defense realm of seemingly limitless funds and manpower before considering them for commercial operation. Purchase of tiltrotor craft by the Coast Guard with its limited budget and resources would signal the movement of the technology into the real world of wide utility.
Lieutenant Commander Goward is the operations officer at Coast Guard Air Station Houston, Texas, where he flics the HH-65A Dolphin rescue helicopter. He has a masters degree from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Prior to attending flight school, he was the operations officer of the USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC-166).
Can Double Bottom Tankers Reduce Oil Pollution?
By Lieutenant Commander Robert J. Stewart, U.S. Naval Reserve
The recent increase in tanker accidents has reopened the debate on double bottom tankers. Legislation requiring double bottoms on these vessels has been introduced at the federal and state levels. Proponents point to the Exxon Valdez and World Prodigy incidents as serious threats to our environment and state that double bottoms would have prevented the pollution that followed the groundings of these two vessels.
The federal legislation introduced by Senator Brock Adams (D-WA) requires not only the adoption of double bottoms for tankers but also requires a “thoroughly articulated spill contingency plan."1 The legislation introduced in the California legislature is less stringent: It would require tankers to carry a variety of oil spill protection equipment but would not require double bottoms.2 Florida’s
governor Bob Martinez recently attempted to solve some of that state’s pollution problems by declaring a “tanker free zone within ten miles of Florida’s east coast.3
Opponents of legislation that requires double bottoms indicate that it would make a large majority of the world’s merchant fleet obsolete and that the cost of replacing a fleet is beyond the capability of most shipowners. They also point out that the cost of importing oil will go up dramatically—adding to our balance of payments problem—if only vessels which transit U.S. waters are affected.4
Double bottom and double hull: A double-bottom tanker has an inner skin supported by structural members that tie it to the vessel’s outer hull.5 It is not the same as a double hull although the terms are used interchangeably by some people. A double hull wraps completely around a vessel from gunwale to gunwale—the double bottom covers only the bottom of the vessel.
Older dry-cargo vessels had, in effect, double bottoms, and the inner skin provided a smooth deck on which cargo or dunnage could be placed. These vessels were also capable of carrying liquid cargo, fuel, water, or ballast in the space between the inner and outer hulls.
With the advent of large, liquid-bulk carrying vessels, these “double bottom” spaces were no longer necessary and the entire cargo space was filled with liquid cargo the ‘double bottoms” were eliminated and the vessel’s structural members became a part of the interior of the cargo tank. This was of little concern operationally since the liquid cargo flowed freely around all of these structures. But there was an environmental fall-out. The problem occurred on voyages when the tanker had no cargo aboard and was required to sail in ballast for safety, stability, and efficiency.6 The seawater pumped into the cargo tanks mixed with the cargo residue; when the ballast water was pumped back to sea, it contained oil residues that polluted the world’s oceans.
The case for double bottoms: In the last decade, the increasing energy demands of the United States and our resulting increased dependence on foreign sources of oil have created a tremendous upsurge in the tanker market. The opening of the Trans-Alaska pipeline terminal in 1976 and the accompanying legislation requiring the oil to be carried in U.S. bottoms was a boon to the West Coast tanker trade. At this point, Senator Brock Adams, then Secretary of Transportation, attempted to force the tanker industry to adopt double bottoms. Conceding that
“double hulls would not be a cure-all,” he maintained that they would reduce the threat of tanker pollution and concluded, “We must hit the beaches before that oil does.”7 The Coast Guard, under pressure from the oil industry, agreed with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) position that double bottoms would be of limited value. This directly contradicted the Coast Guard’s own study, which indicated that pollution would have been eliminated in 27 out of the 30 groundings studied.8 As a result, double bottoms were not required for tank vessels.
The United States was successful in implementing legislation at the international level at both the 1973 and 1978 tanker safety conventions in London, which helped reduce pollution.9 One of the most important protocols adopted was the requirement for segregated ballast tanks (SBT), which are cargo tanks dedicated to carrying water ballast.10 IMO regulations require that a certain percentage of the vessel’s deadweight be available for use with the segregated ballast system; the percentage differs for varying classes of vessels. The ballast tank systems cannot be connected to the ship’s cargo-handling systems and must have their own pumping and piping system. This convention, however, relieved the international community of any obligation to install double bottoms on their fleets.
Studies done in the mid-1970s indicated that in a large majority of cases double bottoms would have reduced the pollution resulting from groundings of tank ships as well as tank barges.11 When the double bottom is constructed to the accepted standard of B/15, which allows for one foot of double bottom depth for every 15 feet of beam (B)—every two meters on smaller vessels—pollution can be reduced by as much as 90%.12 If the double bottoms are made deeper the degree of protection is increased, but cargo carrying capacity is reduced.
“For any accident, you’ve got to be better off with a double hull. . . . You don’t have to do a lot of calculation to come to that conclusion,” according to Everett C. Hunt, Director of Maritime Research at Webb Institute of Naval Architecture in Glen Cove, New York.13 Many experts in ship construction concur with these opinions concerning double bottoms for tankers.
In addition to reducing pollution caused by tanker groundings, double bottoms also decrease the pollution that results from pumping dirty ballast. Water ballast is carried in the double bottoms and not in the cargo tanks, and thus the
sea water ballast is not contaminated by oil residues. There is no dirty ballast to pump. The only time cargo tanks would be used for ballast would be in cases of heavy weather ballasting when the double bottoms and segregated ballast tanks are already full.
Double bottom construction also enhances tank discharge time.14 All structural members that normally are placed in the bottom of the cargo tanks, such as web frames, longitudinals, and stiffeners, can be placed within the double bottom structure. In this way, the tank bottom is clean and smooth, enhancing the flow of cargo to a sump or bellmouth. The presence of the double bottoms also allows the tank sump to be recessed into the tank bottom, allowing for cleaner stripping of the cargo during discharging.
The lack of structural members also simplifies the tank cleaning process.15 The smooth interior of the cargo tank spaces eliminates the shadow areas of the structural members. This absence of structural members also helps reduce the cargo residual which clings to the structures when the tank is washed.
Crude-oil washing systems have greatly reduced pollution. These allow crude oil from the cargo tanks to be circulated through fixed tank-washing machines. The soft sludge residue from the cargo discharge may then be washed back into the oil solution and pumped ashore with the cargo from the vessel. The rinsing of the tanks during the discharge allows crude oil vessels to make their ballast passage virtually oil free.
The case against double bottoms: Opponents of double bottom legislation indicate that this construction does not reduce pollution except in very specific cases. The speed at which the Exxon Valdez grounded was such that, even if she had been fitted with double bottoms, the interior framing would have been forced up through the inner bottom and ruptured the cargo tanks.16
Vessels equipped with double bottoms must be larger than a vessel without double bottoms to carry the same cargo tonnage. The increase in size of these vessels would be reflected in their length and beam as their maximum draft is regulated by the IMO as a function of length and beam.17 This increase in size would require dredging in many ports. Movement of these vessels in docking situations would require more tugs or assist vessels at an additional cost. The docks themselves would also require strengthening as the larger vessels could cause greater damage.
Naval architects have expressed concern about the construction of vessels
Spills from Oil Carriers since March 1989
Vessel Name, Amount Type, Flag Spilled Location
Exxon Valdez, 214,861dwt tanker/USA
11 mil. gallons crude oil (250,000 barrels)
Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA
Hit a reef.
Kanchenjunga, 276,755dwt tanker/India
3,000 tons crude oil
Red Sea, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Grounded on reef.
Work! Prodigy 30.000dwt tanker/Greece
300,000-400,000 gallons heating oil
Narrangansett Bay, Newport, Rhode Island, USA
Hit rocks near reef.
250,000 gallons crude oil
Houston Ship Channel, La Porte. Texas, USA
Presidente Rivera 87,325dwt tanker/Uruguay
800,000 gallons industrial heating oil
Claymont, Delaware. USA
Hit a rock.
Mercantil Maricah 38,000dwt tanker/Brazil
Carrying 2,500 barrels fuel oil, 300 barrels diesel
Texaco Westminster 79,999dwt tanker/US
50 tons light fuel oil
Milford Haven, U.K.
Collided with tug.
19 mil. gallons crude oil
Coast of Morocco
Hull piece ripped off, sparked tank explosions.
VLCC (unknown dwt)/Spain
25,000 tons crude oil
Plate damage in rough seas.
Maritime Gardenia, 7,027 ton tanker/Liberia
Likely loss of 900 tons crude oil
Tango Peninsula, central Japan
Split in two after hitting rock.
American Trader, 82,030dwt tanker/British chartered
400,000 gallons crude oil
Huntington Beach California, USA
Punctured by its own anchor.
COURTESY SHIPBUILDERS COUNCIL OF AMERICA
using double bottoms. The placement of the structural members in the double bottoms increases the stiffness of the inner bottom and the vessel’s motion, especially when in a loaded condition, tends to place stress on the inner bottom.18 This stress can cause cracks in the vessel’s inner bottom that will allow the oil cargo to leak into the clean ballast area of the double bottom. In cases where the vessel grounds, the stress on the cracked inner bottom can be enough to rupture the cargo tank and negate any advantage of the double bottom.
Opponents of double bottom legislation question its effect on the present fleet—would it become obsolete overnight? The industry would be faced with the cost of replacing the majority of its vessels, rather than phasing in new construction, as is presently done. The construction costs of double-bottom vessels are higher than those of single skin vessels, but Paul Atkinson, past President of Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., indicated this increase in construction costs may be as little as 5%.19
Conclusions: As the maritime industry reacts to the environmental concerns of the world, more legislation will be enacted to force compliance with these concerns. Companies and particularly oil companies can no longer treat “some spillage or loss” as the cost of doing business. Companies are being held responsible for the pollution caused by their vessels not just through collision or grounding, but also by routine ballasting and tank cleaning.
The issue of double bottoms is one that appeals to legislators. They appear to concur with many maritime professionals that, in fact, a vessel with a double bottom is safer than one without it. Spillage during a collision would not be mitigated by the use of double bottoms, but could be addressed by the judicious placement of segregated ballast tanks aboard these vessels.
The improved stripping and tank cleaning provisions afforded by doublebottom vessels would also limit ocean pollution. Crude-oil washing regulations are a great addition to this same end; they can reduce the operational costs for time previously spent at sea cleaning tanks in order to have space to load clean ballast. Vessels would no longer need to mix ballast water in a dirty cargo tank, except in very severe weather.
Concerns that double bottoms can actually cause oil spills during a grounding are unfounded. A single-skin vessel grounding would be almost certain of a spill whereas a double bottom vessel would not necessarily spill, except when a structural member is driven through the inner hull and into the cargo tank by the grounding impact. Even in this most extreme case, the damage to the inner bottom—and, consequently, the oil lost— would almost certainly be less than that for a single skin vessel.
Recent innovations in shipbuilding technology have reduced the fears of many naval architects that the design of double bottom vessels tends to allow cracking.20 Cracking of the inner bottom can be reduced by decreasing the number of transverse members in this area, which tends to reduce the stress points where cracks can begin. The strength of the vessel can be maintained by fitting longitudinal strength members.
The double bottom is plainly visible on this tanker under construction in San Diego for the Atlantic-Richfield Co. The Mitsui shipyard in Japan recently signed a $63 million contract with Denmark’s East Asiatic Co. to build a 150,000 dead-weight-ton double bottom tanker, according to Shipyard Weekly.
If double bottom legislation is enacted, tanker fleet owners operators must be offered some alternative to buying new tonnage or retrofitting their existing vessels; the costs to the owners must be considered. Retrofitting vessels with double bottoms is inordinately expensive and is not an option for most owners. In this light, existing tonnage should be “grandfathered” into the law. Such vessels should not just be exempted from compliance, but rather given a variance for what remains of their 20-year working life. This would encourage owners to replace older tonnage while allowing them to continue to operate their newer tankers. With the adoption of the proposed double bottom legislation, and the addition of the recommendations that I have made, both vessel operator and environmentalist can be assured that the maritime industry is attempting to reduce pollution. In this way, as the energy requirements of the United States increase and our domestic tanker traffic becomes more congested, we can safely allow these vessels to our shores knowing they are in compliance with established regulations concerning pollution.
Foreign vessels will be required to meet these pollution standards. The savings in damage to the environment and in oil spill cleanup costs would effectively offset any initial adverse effect on the U.S. balance of trade. The increased cost
of foreign oil may even generate some energy conservation awareness measures in our society. It might also make offshore oil production in the United States more politically attractive than importing foreign oil. Adoption of this legislation would allow the United States to call for the acceptance of these regulations concerning double bottoms by international convention.
'•'Global Report,” SeaTrade Week. 28 April 1989, p. 3.
2State of California Senate Bill 1482, 10 March 1989.
■’“Update,” Marine Log. September 1989, p. 8. 4“Global Report.”
5W. Muckle, Naval Architecture for Marine Engineers (London: Newnes-Butterworths, 1975), p. 3. 'G.S. Marton, Tanker Operations, 2nd ed. (Centerville, MD: Cornell Maritime Press, 1978), pp 113114.
’“Update,” Marine Log, June 1989, p. 9.
SR.D. Leis, Double Hull Effectiveness Analysis (Washington: Department of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard, 1974), pp. 4-5.
'J. Crowley, “General Review of New Regulations Covering Safety and Pollution,” Effect on Ship Design and Operation of the 1978IMCO Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention Conference (London: Department of Trade, 1978), pp. 4-5.
"’Marton, op. cit., p. 114.
"Leis. op. cit., pp. 4-5.
"M.L. Wald, “A Debate on Double Hull Tankers,” The New York Times, 15 May 1989, Sec. 1, p. 2. IJ“ 'Tube Tanker' to Cut Construction Costs,” Marine Engineering Review, January 1989, p. 12. I5lbid.
l6“Update," Marine Log, June 1989, p. 9. ■
i7F.H. Atkinson and L.J. Crighton, “Design Considerations of New Oil Tankers," Effect on Ship Design and Operation of the 1978 IMCO Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention Conference, (London: Department of Trade, 1978), pp. 15-16.
'“‘Tube Tanker,’ p. 12.
'AVald, op. cit., p. 2.
“’Tube Tanker,’ p. 12.
Robert Stewart is a professor at the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, California. He graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point in 1975, and since then has served on board numerous tankers, dry cargo, and ocean towing vessels. He holds a Master Mariner’s license and is the navigator of the Academy’s training vessel Golden Bear.
Navy Oil Spill
By Captain Charles A. Bartholomew, U.S. Navy
"Now set the special sea and anchor detail,” drones the boatswain’s mate of the watch as the conning officer slows the ship, a jumboized Cimarron (A0-1771- class tanker, to ten knots in preparation for entering port. Twenty minutes later the ship shudders and groans as she suddenly comes to rest on a sloping, rocky shoal. “Back full,” bellows the Captain.
The ship shudders again as the massive 21-foot diameter propeller thrashes into the following seas. “Sir, the chief engineer reports loss of main engine vacuum.” A few minutes later, “Sir, the chief engineer reports flooding in the engine room . . . Sir, auxiliary one is also reported flooding.”
Suddenly the ship is plunged into dark
ness as the electrical load is lost. Even as these events unfold, more than 1,200,000 gallons of marine diesel fuel cargo is slowly but inexorably leaking from the ruptured hull into the pristine waters.
Fiction? Maybe, but as long as there are ships at sea, ships will run aground. Nor is the U.S. Navy exempt from this axiom—during the past two years at least two surface ships and one submarine required outside assistance to refloat after being stranded. On the fortunate side, however, neither the U.S. Navy nor the Military Sealift Command (MSC) has recently stranded or sunk a ship with any attendant major environmental impact.
But how would the Navy respond to the environmental implications of a mini- Exxon Valdez disaster similar to the one that befell our fictional skipper? Who Would be in charge? What would the Naval Commander having jurisdiction do? What would be the U.S. Coast Guard’s role? Who would clean up the mess? Who would pay for it? These questions are not easy to answer. Yet, the Navy must be prepared to respond should such an unlikely but, nonetheless, statistically probable event occur sometime in the future.
OpNavInst 5090.1 outlines the Navy’s environmental protection program. With regard to oil spill response, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAV- FAC) has technical support responsibilities for harbor related spills, and the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAV- SEA) has technical and operational support responsibilities for open-ocean spills and those that occur incident to salvage. The responsibilities of the U.S. Navy, Supervisor of Salvage, as the Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) internal agent for salvage and oil spill response, are addressed in OpNavInst 4740.2E and NavSealnst 4740.8. In addition, the entire naval establishment is subdivided mto jurisdictional zones of on-scene command responsibility. This article attempts to clarify these interrelationships and responsibilities, as well as emphasize the importance of thorough contingency Planning and deliberate, immediate, execution by all commanders at all echelons in the event of a major Navy oil spill.
In the early 1970s, in response to a rapidly escalating national environmental awareness, the Navy embarked on an ambitious program to design and procure an inventory of heavy-duty oil spill response equipment intended to be maintained in ready-for-issue condition for flyaway response to a major Navy oil spill anywhere in the world. Thanks to congressional fencing of funding to protect the money during the appropriation process, most of the equipment has been Purchased, and is maintained in the Navy’s Emergency Ship Salvage Material (ESSM) System for immediate deployment as required. Because it is designed for operations in the open sea, it is the most capable in the United States inventory and is considered a national asset. As a result, it is often employed for non-Navy spills, usually at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard. During 1989, for example, Navy oil spill response equipment was mobilized three times in support of non-Navy requirements:
- Antarctica—to assist the National Science Foundation and the Argentine Navy in oil containment and offloading operations for the sunken vessel Bahia Paraiso
- Barbers Point, Hawaii—to help transfer liquid loads on board the stranded Exxon Houston
- Prince William Sound, Alaska—to assist in the massive oil spill caused by the stranding of the Exxon Valdez
Specific elements of the Alaska oil spill clean up operation provide an excellent framework for a case study reflecting U.S. Navy reaction to our hypothetical Navy tanker stranding. Our intent is not to Monday-morning quarterback the Exxon Valdez spill, but rather to illustrate the problems that must be overcome should the U.S. Navy suddenly become the polluting agency.
Oil-spill-response effectiveness can be assessed from three perspectives: contingency planning, resources, and command and control.
Contingency planning: The federal government, through the National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP) has developed a plan for responding to major oil pollution incidents. It establishes a National Response Team (NRT) composed of 14 federal agencies, one of which is the Department of Defense. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chairs the response team. The U.S. Coast Guard, acting for the Department of Transportation, provides the vice-chairman and personnel for a 24-hour response center in Washington, D.C., which it monitors responses to any significant incident. The Coast Guard predesignates federal onscene coordinators in U.S. coastal areas who are charged with monitoring and directing all federal actions at the site of a designated spill.
It is within this national framework that the U.S. Navy must function to solve its own problems should they occur. A massive effort to update and standardize contingency plans is currently under way for each of 32 designated Navy commands having regional jurisdiction; this is not necessarily a popular job. Many naval officers view oil spill contingency planning as an interruption of higher priority missions and a drain on already thin resources. They tend to hope that any oil spills will happen on the next watch. With luck, it will not happen on anyone’s watch, but that is unlikely and, when it does, the responsible Navy commander will require a realistic, up-to-date plan. Commanders at all echelons should review their respective contingency plans for completeness, simulate a variety of response actions, and become “comfortable” with their command’s ability to deal with a major spill. Local contingency plans are normally developed at the next lower echelon as directed by the regional plans.
Resources: The main battery of Navy oil spill response equipment is maintained by the salvage supervisor within the ESSM System. The equipment is apportioned between Stockton, California, and Cheatham Annex, Williamsburg, Virginia. One additional skimmer system is located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In each case, the equipment is specifically designed to be air transportable by C-141 or C-5 aircraft. The salvage supervisor can provide a turnkey operation with Navy and contractor personnel to operate and maintain the equipment and also assist in management of the overall response. Each Navy port has its own inventory of smaller skimmers, oil booms, barges, holding tanks, and other equipment provided by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command for minor, local spills. If needed, commercial equipment is available in many geographic areas. Detailed information like this should be tabulated in the regional and local area contingency plans.
Command and control: The governing oil spill contingency plan provides the overall framework within which the predesignated Navy on-scene coordinator functions. For any major oil spill, his actions must be decisive and responsive. If the federal on-scene coordinator determines that his Navy counterpart’s emergency response actions are insufficient, he may relieve the naval officer of all responsibilities and take charge—a legitimate option that would embarrass the Navy.
Response time is critical when a major oil spill occurs. This is not the place for timid souls or advocates of study and analysis; local assets, however modest, must be instantly deployed. The Naval Sea System Command’s ESSM bases must be placed on alert and, if air shipment is required, support must be requested from the Unified Transportation Command. Criticism will be heaped upon both the fire chief who keeps his units in reserve while the fire rages out of control and the Navy on-scene coordinator who reacts too slowly to a major oil spill. In the case of the Valdez spill, four incremental requests for Navy oil spill response equipment were issued from Alaska over a ten-day period while millions of gallons of black oil were already loose in the sound. A single and immediate request for everything in the entire ESSM System might have enabled more containment and mechanical recovery of the oil sooner; less oil would have washed ashore, and foul weather might have been less of a factor. Regretably, three days after the Exxon Valdez stranded, a major weather front that blew through Prince William Sound essentially eliminated any hopes, however faint, of effectively containing the spill.
Available funds inevitably influence, if not dictate, the Navy’s actions. Even though the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies overwhelmingly in the instance of a major oil spill, Navy coordinators may delay before making any decision with major funding implications. One reason, of course, is that the on-scene coordinator has the responsibility for taking charge and cleaning up the spill, but probably does not have the gold. The gold is in the coffers of the major claimant owning the spilling ship or activity. In the majority of likely situations, he and the responsible ship belong to the same major claimant— the U.S. Navy—so funding responsibility versus spending authority should be fairly straightforward. But consider the case of a commercial tanker carrying Navy oil under Military Sealift Command charter stranding in a non-Navy harbor where the designated Navy on-scene commander is a naval aviation command! Unless the governing oil spill contingency plan is specific, has been rehearsed, and all the players are on board, then command and control may well be difficult, correct and timely decisions may not be made, the spill not contained or incorrectly handled, and news media, environmentalists, and politicians—not to mention admirals—will be critical of the effort.
The type of oil to be recovered also influences the on-scene coordinator’s actions. Recently, the fueling requirements for U.S. Navy ships have been simplified by the almost exclusive use of marine diesel fuel (DFM). On the other hand, the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) owns or charters tankers that transport a wide variety of petroleum products for federal customers; MSC has even moved crude oil for our strategic petroleum reserves. In addition, Navy shoreside power and steam plants burn heavy black oil that is moved on Navy or chartered barges and ships. The Navy must therefore be prepared to respond to spills of virtually all types of oil.
The Navy’s lighter petroleum products, such as DFM and gasoline, present very different response requirements than the heavy Bunker C and other residual fuels. The lighter products evaporate into the atmosphere, dissolve into the water column, and spread out on the water’s surface relatively rapidly. In the first 24 hours following a spill of lighter refined oils, nearly 50% of the spilled oil will dissipate; up to 20% of the remaining oil will dissipate in each succeeding day. In many cases, recovery equipment cannot be mobilized rapidly enough to effectively combat these non-persistent spills. In addition, safety considerations preclude the recovery and containment of particularly volatile products such as gasoline. Chemical dispersion or diversionary booming to protect environmentally sensitive areas may be the only alternatives for combatting spills of these highly refined products. Because spills of these products are not persistent and do not leave the highly visible black residue on shorelines and wildlife, they are often considered less damaging than spills of the persistent heavy black residual oils. Unfortunately, these oils are in fact more toxic than heavy residual oils, and may be more damaging to sub-surface marine life because they dissolve more readily into the water column.
Though less toxic than the more highly refined products, the heavy residual oils are damaging to the environment largely because of their persistence. They remain on the water’s surface for prolonged periods and tend to coat marine mammals and birds that come in contact with them. Because they are persistent, residual oils are better candidates for mechanical recovery than the more highly refined products. Conversely, they are generally considered more difficult to disperse chemically. Because crude oils exhibit the visual characteristics of residual oils they are often assumed to have the same properties as residuals. In fact, because they are unrefined, crudes are a mix of all the products later separated through the refining process. Crudes therefore exhibit the most damaging characteristics of all the refined products. They have the toxic fractions that dissolve into the water column as well as the persistent residual fractions.
All the Navy’s open-ocean spill response equipment has been developed, procured, and modified to maximize flexibility for response to all types of oil spills; the Class 5 and Class 11 skimmers, in particular, can recover both high viscosity residual oils and low viscosity refined products. As the Exxon Valdez spill clean-up continued and the floating oil became more and more viscous, modifications to the skimmers were made on scene to permit continued effective skimming operations.
Whether to use chemical dispersants has become a environmental issue. Normally, dispersants should not be used when mechanical removal techniques are effective, because mechanical removal can potentially remove almost all the oil; obviously no oil at all has less impact than any dispersant-related residue, even if the preferred dispersant is applied under optimum conditions. In addition, dispersants can be used only when approved on a case basis by the Federal onscene coordinator. The OSC’s approval is contingent upon the concurrence of Regional Response Team representatives of the potentially affected state(s), potentially affected federal lands trustees, and the EPA. At this time, it is clear that the decision to use dispersants will not be made unilaterally by the Navy, and will probably not be reached by the on-scene coordinator and regional response teams in time to allow effective use. In Prince William Sound, dispersants were tested and their use debated for several days, after which the opportunity, if it ever existed, had been lost. To date, dispersants have worked well primarily in the laboratory. The Navy does not stockpile nor generally advocate use of dispersants; in any given case, however, dispersant use may be the option that best protects the environment. The Supervisor of Salvage is prepared to support Navy operational commanders in following the guidance provided by the federal response forces.
Yet another environmentally sensitive recourse is to burn the oil. In the 1979 Burmah Agate incident, the tanker was involved in a collision and, during the course of salvage, caught fire and burned for almost two months. When the smoke cleared, all the oil in the ruptured tanks was gone and the ship was debunkered, towed to sea and sunk. In this instance, once the ship caught fire, the water pollution problem was solved. Attempts to reduce water pollution by burning spilled oil from the Torrey Canyon and Exxon Valdez were unsuccessful, however, to say nothing of air quality impact had the oil been burned. In general, deliberate burning of spilled oil is not recommended.
Logistics will almost always pose major problems, although perhaps not as severe as those encountered off the coast of Alaska. In addition to the process of getting the equipment to the spill site quickly, commanders must consider the need for spotter aircraft to guide the recovery craft, provision for tankage on site to offload skimmers, and disposal of the recovered oil and other residue.
At Valdez, the greatest initial impediment to recovering large quantities of oil once the skimmers were on site was offloading. Early on, when concentrations of crude were greatest, a Mk 5 skimmer’s 1,340-gallon holding tank might be filled in only 30 minutes, yet require hours of transit time to move the skimmers to a storage barge or vice versa for offloading.
Strong tidal currents, compounded by extremely rugged underwater terrain in Prince William Sound, made protection of some of the salmon hatcheries a major undertaking. At Sawmill Bay in particular, Coast Guard and Navy personnel struggled for many days to correctly moor the 42-inch Navy offshore oil boom in the deep, swirling waters.
Wildlife treatment centers are probable requirements for a major spill. Normally, the Navy on-scene coordinator can rely upon other federal agencies for assistance >n this area. In particular the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ean provide scientific support coordinators. The Coast Guard strike teams have considerable experience in beach cleanup matters.
Obviously, too, full-time public affairs support is essential to receive and escort news media at the scene, respond to inquiries, and arrange interviews with competent spokesmen to explain the events and clean-up efforts. The key message here is that the federal or Navy on-scene coordinator, as appropriate, must have a staff—many of whom may not be Navy— which is knowledgeable and trained throughout the spectrum of requirements. All of these needs should be delineated in the applicable contingency plan.
Even when contingency planning is complete, the mix and timeliness of onscene oil spill response equipment and operating personnel are correct, and a sound organizational team is in place, success cannot be guaranteed. The tactics of effective oil spill response are as variable as the sea itself. Type and quantity of oil spilled, geography—and its effect on logistics—environmental conditions, types of marine life potentially affected, as well as public perceptions and opinion, are all major factors to be considered.
In the Exxon Valdez incident, of course, the three requisite qualifiers— planning, resources, and command and control—were not satisfied. Even if they had been, however, the combined impact of the factors discussed above probably would have overwhelmed us; damage to the environment was probably inevitable.
Growing environmental concern over the Exxon Valdez incident has rekindled governmental interest in contingency planing. While presently targeted at commercial tanker operations, this interest could easily focus on the Navy should we suddenly have the opportunity to respond to a major Navy oil spill in a professional
We were unprepared for the massive oil spill from the Exxon Valdez in Alaska; Navy skimmers were called in to help. Would the U.S. Navy be any better prepared to clean up a spill from one of its own ships?
manner and fail. Oil spill response is a dirty, greasy and unpleasant experience. At the same time, it is there for all to see; to do it right demands intimate knowledge of all aspects of a good contingency plan and the mettle to execute it professionally. Good luck!
Captain Bartholomew is the Supervisor of Salvage and Diving in the Naval Sea Systems Command. During his more than 21 years as a Navy diver and salvor, he has been involved in the salvage of 16 ships, numerous aircraft, and the space shuttle.
Burning Decks: The Sailor’s Eternal Burden
By Captain Arthur M. Smith, Medical Corps, U.S. Nava! Reserve
As one journalist has noted, “If the Navy were operating 600 cruise liners instead of warships, it would be paying truly awesome premiums for fire insurance.”
In 1989 six Navy men died and five Were injured from fire on board the combat store ship White Plains (AFS-4). Nine Were injured on board the oiler Mononga- hela (AO-178), and 31 were injured on board the amphibious assault ship Inchon (LPH-12), also from the effects of fire. Obviously, in view of the recent U.S. Navy “safety stand down,” this subject has become of major importance to senior Navy leaders.
Vulnerability—Design Problems: With the advent of new structural materials, fuels, and compartmentation requirements in Navy ships, new fire scenarios are emerging. In recent years, “advanced materials” (graphite composites, synthetic lubricants, artificial fibers and fabrics, adhesives, matrix systems, and advanced coatings) have played increasingly important roles in military designs. The shipbuilding industry is turning to these materials for use in bulkheads, joiner doors, and even hull components and fittings. Unfortunately, many of them possess significant thermal and flammability properties, as well as the propensity to form many toxic by-products upon incineration. Furthermore, fire effect studies on the integrity of bulkheads separating ship compartments have demonstrated the easy propagation of these particulate by-products of combustion, as well as smoke, through the various conduit systems and wire bundles that penetrate these barriers.
Fire problems on board ships also vary in accordance with their design and function. Whether battle related or accidental, damage is likely to be more severe if the fire occurs in an enclosed space designed to encapsulate personnel and equipment for defensive reasons. This is especially true in such high-risk enclosures as submarines.
Submarines have many high-energy batteries, and the charging process gives off hydrogen and oxygen. In this setting, where the most common conflagrations emanate from electrical panel fires, they will be very difficult to extinguish. Additional fire risk from cigarettes, deep fat fryers, oxygen generators, the catalytic burner for atmosphere control, and dryers in the vessel’s laundry is significant.
Aboard some newly designed surface ships as well, the trend in ventilation design is also toward closed-loop systems. This will make surface ships’ fire problems more akin to submarines, with greater concern over toxic gas dissemination.
Vulnerability—Personnel Protection: If future combat conditions at sea can be expected to mirror those seen in the 1982 Falklands War, in which a significant number of underway burn injuries was incurred, the widely disseminated television tapes taken on the bridge of the Aegis cruiser Vincennes (CG-49) while on station in the Persian Gulf in the summer of 1988 give some cause for concern. Even though the ship was at general quarters and under attack, it is difficult in viewing the videotape to identify any individual on the bridge wearing substantial protective vestments, much less those of a fire protective nature. As one experienced observer noted, “Not a single man was adequately protected against flash burns. Every face, every arm, every hand was exposed.” He further noted, “The apparent lack of protective clothing aboard Vincennes was in sharp contrast to crew protection aboard the Royal Navy frigate Broadsword, shown in a BBC videotape on patrol in the Persian Gulf in 1987. Every sailor was fully clothed in face mask, arm protectors and gloves. The difference was striking.”
The problems associated with inhalation injuries during shipboard fires are equally serious. In 1982, following the sinking of the British destroyer Sheffield
These Chilean destroyer sailors are wearing protective clothing— including masks—to shield themselves from burns. Other navies around the globe consider this routine. What about the U.S. Navy?
at the Falklands, many crew members in firefighting teams were incapacitated because of smoke seeping through the cracked face masks on their emergency breathing equipment. A positive pressure mask has since been adopted to prevent smoke seepage into such personnel protection gear. An article by David Evans in the 24 November 1989 Chicago Tribune noted, “The US Navy lags behind the British effort. According to Rep. Kurt Weldon (D., Pa.) a former fire chief, the Navy’s Oxygen Breathing Apparatus, or OBA, is a 40 year old design. ‘No municipal fire department would use such antiquated equipment. The OBA doesn’t have positive overpressure to keep smoke out, and the air gets hotter as you use it from the chemical reaction that produces the oxygen. This feature causes real anxiety when you’re fighting a fire,’ he said.” It has been reported that the U.S. Navy will have a new positive pressure mask out in the fleet by 1993.
It has been generally reported that fire- resistant nomex coveralls have been issued, and that standard shipboard clothing in the Navy is now 100% cotton or wool. It is stated that unlike nylon, which melts and shrinks onto the skin under high heat, natural fibers tend to char and fall away as they burn. (Is this taken seriously? Several months ago, during tours provided on board a large new Navy ship, one could still observe the commanding officer and chief engineer wearing flammable plastic shoes—items previously banned from the fleet!)
Fire-retardant garments will not prevent or necessarily reduce the number of those who suffer instantaneous death from incineration by the sudden high temperatures characteristic of maritime fires. Similarly, traditional oxygen breathing devices, in themselves, cannot prevent precipitous poisoning and asphyxiation by sudden toxic gas dissemination. Nevertheless, protective measures might well have an impact upon the degree of attrition among those fortunate enough to have survived initial contact with naval conflagrations, and certainly among those who are members of underway casualty-response teams.
Treatment Problems: Among those who have survived initial exposure to flame, smoke, and noxious gases during at-sea fires, the potential still remains for significant injury, and often death. Skin burns, a devastating class of injuries in themselves, may be accompanied by blockages of the breathing passages, burns to the lungs themselves, or major blood loss from other injuries incurred during the fire.
Shipboard medical treatment procedures for burns and smoke inhalation, a group of injuries that have traditionally required significant manpower and logistical support, mandate continuing reappraisal by Navy leaders. Updated guidance must be provided, in keeping with current progress in the care of bum wounds, throughout the many Navy medical care echelons. Special emphasis must be placed upon those treatment adaptations required within the space and logistical constraints imposed by the shipboard environment.
In a similar fashion, treatment guidelines and professional standards must accommodate to the average experience and training level of the health care providers stationed aboard these vessels. Authorized inventories of medical supplies must be adjusted, within the limits of space availability, to reflect combat contingencies and not just routine peacetime sick call requirements. They must also be sufficient to support injuries for a long enough period of time when medical evacuation is not readily available.
To facilitate the goals of preventing and treating fire-related casualties, a Navy burn commission should be chartered, composed of our foremost national authorities in the fields of burn and smoke inhalation treatment, to advise and assist Navy leadership in making the proper choices.
Even though confronted by current defense budget constraints, the Navy bears a formidable burden of responsibility regarding fire safety. After defining its expectations, it must then “pick up the check” for their implementation. This is the true “bottom line” of the responsibilities of leadership.
Captain Smith is professor of surgery at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia. He is a frequent contributor to the Proceedings.