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Australian Navy explores alternative fuel use with United States

Secretary of the US Navy Ray Mabus and Royal Australian Navy Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Tim Barrett shake hands after signing the Great Green Fleet agreement.

The Royal Australian Navy has signed an agreement with the US Navy to explore the increased use of environmentally-friendly fuels.

Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, and the US Secretary for Navy, Ray Mabus, have signed a Statement of Cooperation which recognises that research into alternative fuels could bring significant benefits.

It acknowledges the importance of the project, both for the environment and for national security.

The RAN’s Fleet Commander, Rear Admiral Tim Barrett, delivered the Statement of Cooperation for the signing ceremony on board the US aircraft carrier USS Nimitz with Secretary Mabus on 19 July.

“All of us have a responsibility to be more environmentally aware. As things stand today, biofuel remains too costly to use across our fleet. However, this project could lead to a cheaper alternative fuel,” Rear Admiral Barrett said.

The US Navy is moving towards the general use of a 50/50 blended biofuel product by 2020.

The RAN will observe the US Navy as it further develops the use of alternative fuels in time for a joint deployment in 2016. The ‘Great Green Fleet’ initiative aims to replicate the famous ‘Great White Fleet’ deployment when US ships circumnavigated the globe in 1907.

“We are making sure that we look to the future so that we can continue to operate with the US as we do in company around the world,” Rear Admiral Barrett said.

As part of the event, a Royal Australian Navy Seahawk helicopter landed on USS Nimitz and refuelled with a biofuel blend, before flying the Fleet Commander to HMAS Darwin. This is the first time a RAN aircraft has flown with a biofuel blend.