BY SKY M. LARON, DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER YOKOSUKA
Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka fuels department personnel in conjunction with Pond, a U.S. based licensed fire protection contractor, completed functional tests of the fire suppression system Dec. 4 at Defense Fuel Support Point (DFSP) Hakozaki on the small island of Azuma located within Tokyo Bay.
“It is safety first in all operations,” said Steve Schultz, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Kanto Plain fuel director. “The fire suppression system offers the fastest way to mitigate or control a potential full disaster situation.”
The island acts as a main fuel distribution hub for central and northern Japan. The primary customers are 7th Fleet Forward Deployed Naval Forces vessels as well as jets and aircraft from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Yokota Air Base and Misawa Air Base.
With that many forward deployed warfighters relying on the capability DFSP Hakozaki brings to the fight, it is essential to have the safety measures in place to ensure mission success.
“We work in an industrial environment where hazards are ever present,” said Lt. Les Begin, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka fuels intern. “Some of the hazards are less obvious and to mitigate them requires a proactive approach and working with Pond to test the proportioners of our fire suppression system is an excellent example of our forward thinking safety strategy.”
DFSP Hakozaki holds 29 fuel tanks, each ranging from 3,000 barrels to 300,000 barrels in total capacity with the entire operation putting out an average annual throughput of 116 million gallons per year.
“Both personal and operational safety must be stressed working with the hundreds of thousands of gallons of petroleum inventory,” said Schultz. “There is no real room for error.”
The fire suppression system at DFSP Hakozaki is comprised of large suction pumps that pull seawater from the bay, pumping the water through hundreds of feet of pipeline to the top of the fuel tanks where a portion of the water is diverted into a tank that has a bladder full of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) concentrate. The water pressure squeezes the bladder, which pushes the AFFF concentrate through a small pipe and into a proportioner. The proportioner evenly dispenses the AFFF into the main waterline where it is agitated to create foam.
It is this foam mix, which would ultimately be discharged through water cannons aimed at each of the fuel tanks if there ever were a fire emergency.
Official Department of Defense regulations require that this type of testing be done every two years, said Begin, who added that the testing also offered a great training opportunity for the Sailors and employees involved.
As half of the U.S. Navy’s deployed fleet is permanently homeported in the Asia-Pacific, it is vital that NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka has the fuel available to keep the ships and aircraft moving and DFSP Hakozaki is an integral piece of that much larger puzzle.
The more than 100 fuel professionals that spend their days on a very small island doing very important work have ensured that fuel storage and operations will continue with safety first and always, allowing them to continue meeting their customers’ needs.