By Scott A. Light DEPUTY DIRECTOR FUELS DIVISION, NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER SIGONELLA, SITE ROTA
Perhaps not as exciting as laser-guided missiles destroying a target, or even the rapid refueling of a racecar in the pits, the fuels division of NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Sigonella onboard Naval Station (NS) Rota, Spain quietly goes about its business ensuring everyone else has the fuel they need to carry out their missions.
The Defense Fuel Support Point (DFSP) Rota teams supply all of the fuel to the aviation division, conduct terminal fueling operations, and is comprised of a combination of U.S. Navy uniformed members, U.S. civil service employees and Spanish host nation partners. The aviation fuels division and the bulk fuels facility are two teams with equally important missions.
Terminal fueling operations are concentrated at the port of NS Rota where primary support is provided to four home-ported, forward-deployed, naval forces europe (FDNF-E) guided missile destroyers (DDGs) and the largest concentration of the Spanish armada’s afloat forces. The bulk fuel staff supports a robust 16-hour day, five-days-perweek schedule that is capable of surging to 24/7 operations.
DFSP Rota is the primary provider of F-76 and the sole provider of JP-5 for all U.S. and NATO assets transiting the region, supplying more than 55 million gallons of F-76, JP-5, and JP-8 for 2019 to over 225 U.S. and NATO ships. NS Rota’s area of responsibility covers the entire western coastline of Europe up to the high North Atlantic, through the Straits of Gibraltar, far into the Mediterranean, and the north and southwestern coasts of Africa.
The Aviation Fuels team delivered over 25 million gallons of JP-8 to more than 2,900 U.S. and NATO aircraft during 2019, without incident and with zero flight delays. NS Rota also provided JP-5 to naval aviation assets on a special-needs request basis. Aviation fuels operations directly support flight line operations and auxiliary operations requiring ground products on the installation. NS Rota is designated as a primary hub of Air Mobility Command’s strategic enroute infrastructure master plan and the efforts of aviation fuels personnel directly supported United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) missions to routinely and rapidly deliver combat capability to the United States European Command and United States Africa Command theaters of operation.
To support a robust operating schedule and deliver readiness to U.S. and NATO customers, the staff is manned to support operations 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Recurring operations include issuing fuel via truck or pantograph from any of the 21 spots from the largest Navy type-III hydrant system in Europe. Aviation fuels division is the primary source of JP-8 for all U.S. and NATO aircraft that transit NS Rota. In addition to supporting USTRANSCOM’s strategic logistics flightpath assets, aviation fuels Rota supports Spanish and other NATO fighter assets operating across the theater.
Although providing fuel support to the warfighter is the primary mission of the fuels division; their environmental management program is a top priority in Spain. NS Rota contains several major high-risk areas: various archaeological sites, endangered species habitat zones, groundwater and residential zones, and marine habitats. Despite the increased risk, the DFSP preserves each of these sensitive areas and operates without incident following all environmental regulations in the receipt, issue, and disposal of fuel-related products.
In November 2019, at the request of the Ministry of Defense in for the Kingdom of Spain, the fuels division participated in a large-scale disaster drill to exercise interoperability among many different response agencies with often-competing priorities. The event was designed to practice and review response capabilities in the event of catastrophic failure within the commercial bulk petroleum facility adjacent to the DFSP. As a result of this exercise, NAVSUP FLC Sigonella personnel are better prepared to respond and minimize environmental impact in the event of a catastrophic failure at either the commercial or government bulk storage facilities.
The facilities management fuels management team made significant strides in 2019 for DFSP Rota. Because the facility is large and has aging infrastructure from the 1960s, maintenance of the bulk storage facility is an essential task. The DFSP has a footprint of over 630 acres with nearly 26 miles of active underground pipeline connecting the receipt pier with 48 above- and below-ground storage tanks, and the NS Rota aviation fuels facility on the flight line. The fuels division has awarded projects to completely rehabilitate, rebuild or replace the entire facility within the next few years, and will ensure continuous support to warfighters from NS Rota long into the future.
The team members of NAVSUP FLC Sigonella’s Rota fuels division take great pride in going about their work, quietly providing the petroleum resources to the ships and aircraft that work within, and traverse their small corner of the world here in Spain. They know their jobs are just as important as a strike fighter pilot’s or the operators downrange, running toward the sound of battle.