Italian, US Navy set to conduct a RAS of a different kind

Ships assigned to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG), participate in a strait transit exercise in the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: US Navy

After two years of cooperation on developing alternative fuels to reduce emissions and pollution, the Italian and U.S. Navy are set to conduct the first replenishment at sea (RAS) that will transfer fuel made from renewable sources.

On June 16, Italian Navy auxiliary ship Etna will replenish ships from the U.S. Navy’s Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group which arrived to Europe on June 8. Ships centered around the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower are part of the Great Green Fleet which was pioneered by the John C. Stennis carrier strike group.

The Great Green Fleet is a U.S. Navy initiative aimed at making alternative fuel blends a regular part of the military’s bulk operational fuel supply. U.S. Navy ships are currently sailing on a blend of alternative fuel made from waste beef fat provided by farmers in the U.S. Midwest.

The ships will meet off the coast of Sardinia, Italy on June 15 and conduct the RAS a day later. Etna will be supplying the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Mason on one side, and Italian destroyer Andrea Doria on the other.

Italian Navy is the first and only European naval service to launch a test program on the use of biodiesel in the maritime sector, and cooperates with the US Navy to develop and promote biofuels, under an agreement signed in 2014 for joint research and use of alternative fuels.

By virtue of this agreement, in the next few days, a naval exercise will be conducted, involving ships from the Italian Navy alongside the Eisenhower carrier strike group – the Great Green Fleet – which will be partially fueled by a synthetic biodiesel (Green Diesel) produced in Italy.

Green Diesel is a marine fuel containing up to 50% synthetic component derived from renewable sources, in accordance with NATO specifications. The synthetic component (HRF-76, Hydrogenated Renewable Fuel) is produced at the Porto Marghera bio-refinery, utilizing EcofiningTM technology. Renewable diesel possesses physical and chemical properties similar to conventional diesel – being non hygroscopic and highly stable – unlike other biodiesel fuels.

The Italian Navy has successfully tested Green Diesel, for the first time in January 2014 on offshore patrol vessel FOSCARI – first European ship – with no need for engine modifications, and later, in 2015, on other units and submarines (Duilio, Cavour, Gazzana and Maestrale). The same fuel was utilized during two major anti-pollution exercises conducted by Italian patrol vessels, in 2014 and 2015.

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