By Kevin Henderson REGIONAL FUEL DIRECTOR, NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER NORFOLK
NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk recently initiated the 2035 Facility Sustainment Study at Defense Fuel Support Point (DFSP) Craney Island, Virginia, designed to ensure the landmark facility will continue its vital mission providing Class III bulk petroleum to the fleet for the remainder of the 21st century, as it has since the turn of the last century.
Craney Island is threatened due to its location near sea level. The threat comes from rising sea level along the Atlantic coast, combined with subsidence (sinking of the land), impacting operations on a regular basis. Today, all it takes is a higher-thannormal tide to swamp equipment and piping infrastructure, block roadways and render piers inaccessible. The facility could be completely inundated in the event of storm surge, with worse results if Hampton Roads experienced a direct landfall from even a minor hurricane.
With environmental changes, it’s easy to understand that piers built during World War II and other decades-old equipment were not meant to operate in today’s conditions. Subsidence, flooding, as well as increased storm strength and frequency are affecting operations today beyond what was expected even a decade ago. However, the problem is Sustainment Study Ensures Future of Craney Island Defense Fuel Support Point By Kevin Henderson REGIONAL FUEL DIRECTOR, NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER NORFOLK bigger than that, because even recent construction has been completed in a known flood zone.
Fuel tanks have a planned lifespan of at least 50 years, but flooding from a 20-year storm can put those tanks and other major sections of Craney Island out of service, potentially beyond economic repair. That tells us that we need to manage our facility smartly and with a longer time horizon in mind. New projects should address known and forecasted climate factors, and not be designed in an ad-hoc fashion that may not meet their planned lifespan due to changing environmental conditions.
Craney Island must be enduring, as it is the only DFSP on the East and Gulf coasts able to meet the fueling requirements of the Norfolk fleet concentration area and numerous Joint bases. From a strategic location on the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth Virginia, DFSP Craney Island issues over 750 million gallons of military specification fuel to Navy and Department of Defense (DoD) customers every year using Navy and commercial fuel barges and tanker trucks, and Military Sealift Command combat logistics force ships to pass to Navy combat ships, from three fueling piers. These functions are not possible when a flood makes critical infrastructure inaccessible. We need to take steps now to The Navy Supply Corps Newsletter 27 increase our resilience against weather events, erosion, and other long-term problems.
NAVSUP FLC Norfolk initiated the study to address these issues. After conceptual development, funding approval was acquired from DLA Energy, then Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Mid Atlantic contracted with an outside engineering firm to assess all current Craney Island infrastructure required to deliver fuel support. This included roads, piers, utilities, tanks, truck fill stands, and more, against sea level rise and subsidence projections, to develop a time phased list of projects to ensure the endurability of Craney Island into the latter half of the 21st century.
These time-phased discrete projects will be programmed for funding at DLA Energy and for engineering and contractual support by NAVFAC, which will allow NAVSUP FLC Norfolk to address this immense task, ensuring warfighter fuel support, despite the challenging environmental conditions. The result is intended to be a design for physical development. It will integrate mission requirements, incorporate environmental projections, and recommend proactive responses to the increased hazards we must be ready to face.
The results of the study will act as a “guide map” for development of Craney Island, ranging from short-term projects and for mid- to long-term projects, for the next 30 years. Navy and DLA leadership will have a user-friendly chart that helps determine course of action alternatives and best actions to take at each point in time. All stakeholders will be incorporated and all will benefit by working from the same shared understanding. The outcome will be wiser spending and smarter construction that will serve the next generation of Navy “fuelies” and warfighters well.
In order to accomplish these goals, an in depth evaluation of current conditions will have to take place. This evaluation is ongoing with civilian engineering experts working hand-in-hand with NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Fuel Department operators and government engineers to ensure the analysis fully integrates land use, stormwater management, energy use, safety, security, maintenance requirements and any deficiencies. Projected fuel mix and demand from the fleet will be the ultimate driver for action. Going beyond best practices and recommendations, actionable projects will be generated that address risks appropriately and can begin now.
If proven successful, it may be used as a template for planning and improvement at other bases. This innovative study will ultimately ensure that the East coast fuel supply chain is resilient in the face of future circumstances.