It’s 8:00 in the morning on Feb. 20. The NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego fuels team is already working hard, issuing JP-5 jet fuel to a nearby air station. Just as the loudspeaker begins to play morning colors, the ground starts to shake. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake rattles the coast and 80,000 gallons of fuel are released into local waters. An underwater pipeline has ruptured, and the facility has lost power.
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Code 700 Fuels Director Lt. Cmdr. Ricardo Collazos, SC, USN, oversees fuel spill response operations.
That was the nightmarish scenario during a fuel spill training exercise held aboard Naval Base Point Loma. The annual training evolution, mandated by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, tests the expert team’s knowledge and response in executing an integrated contingency plan in the unlikely event such an oil or hazardous waste spill should occur. “This annual training is an excellent opportunity to practice spill response procedures and really sharpen the coordination among all of the would-be responders,” said Regional Fuels Officer Lt. Cmdr. Rick Collazos, SC, USN. “A worst-case scenario like the one we practiced would require a very high level of expertise and coordination to quickly minimize the impact on the environment and human health.”
The training focused heavily on stopping and isolating the spill at the earliest possible time following a disaster. Carefully planned and executed, the exercise was comprised of complex and in-depth stages focused on response, notification, organization, duties, containment, cleanup, and remediation procedures.
“One of the Navy’s mottos is ‘Train like you fight.’ Well, we ‘Fuel like we fight,’” said Collazos. “It’s important to train so extensively and become comfortable with emergency procedures. We’re committed to being good stewards of our environment and we, ourselves, live here in this community, so this is our backyard, too. If something were to ever go awry, it’s important for us to be able to correct the problem as quickly and as competently as possible.”
The team ran through manual shutoff and containment procedures while putting specialized spill recovery personnel and watercraft to the test. The evolution’s objectives were met satisfactorily.
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Sailors use special watercraft to skim the waters along the coast of Point Loma, San Diego, during a fuel spill response exercise.
NAVSUP FLC San Diego’s fuels team serves as the operational and tactical support partner for receiving, storing, and issuing petroleum products to all Department of Defense agencies in support of our nation’s warfighters. The team provides about five million gallons of JP-5 jet fuel and Diesel Fuel – Marine (DFM) weekly to domestic and allied activities as part of a comprehensive logistics approach. As the Navy’s mission around the globe expands, the fuel department’s mission and role are evolving, playing a direct role in operational agility and aroundthe-clock support.
“Our team did a great job working with our regional partners to respond and isolate the threat during the training scenario,” said Commanding Officer Capt. Christopher Mosher. “It’s not just about getting a satisfactory score. It’s about putting all of those plans and procedures in place during an emergency situation and using the lessons learned to keep our ships steaming, our squadrons flying, and our neighbors safe. I think we did a really great job meeting all of those objectives.”
By Candice Villarreal, NAVSUP FLC San Diego Public Affairs