Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Anchors Aweigh: Navy Embarks on Environmental Voyage

Fleet Week is drawing to a close today in New York.  It is an annual event that gives New Yorkers and tourists alike a chance to board U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels and just hang out.  The kids get to sit in cockpits of in-service fighter helicopters and grab the steering wheels of Jeeps and Humvees.  Their moms and dads get to have their pictures taken with cute sailors (boys and girls) in cool uniforms (unisex but the dress whites seem to work for both body types).

This Memorial Day weekend I walked around the deck of the USS Wasp.  The first Wasp was a sailing sloop that was commissioned in 1807 and put into service during The War of 1812.  Today the Wasp is a multipurpose amphibious assault ship.  That is a mouthful, but it means that the vessel can accommodate helicopters as well as those short take-off and landing jets called Harriers.  The Marines favor those for assault maneuvers.  The Wasp can also carry amphibious vehicles and then launch them down a ramp in the aft section.

The fighter craft was all very interesting, but what was really exciting about the Wasp tour was the revelation that the otherwise blue U.S. Navy has turned “green.”

Mixed in among the helicopters and boats on wheels in the USS Wasp’s huge open bay was a series of booths featuring U.S. Navy projects.  There were the requisite tables with information on lethal and non-lethal weapons, but those were dwarfed in scale by tables devoted to environmental topics such as global warming, recycling and renewable energy.  One of those cute sailors reminded me that the Navy has been keenly aware of the consequences of improper waste disposal even before the American public embraced Earth Day.  After all you cannot simply toss the garbage out of a submarine.  Sailors on submarines have been sorting and compacting for a while.  It was not a big leap to take that fleet wide and add in a recycling step.    

Come to find out the U.S. Navy weighed anchors on environmental conservation some time ago through its Energy & Environmental Readiness Division. It is not just a matter of recycling soda cans.  The Navy is at the forefront of new research and development on solid state lighting, fuel cells and craft design for energy conservation. 

A few examples:

1)     The Navy is switching out incandescent fixtures for LED and making data available to commercial developers for research on new products. 
2)    A new stern flap is under evaluation for effectiveness in increased speed, reduced fuel and lower emissions.  The Navy estimates fuel savings in the neighborhood of $655 million from the stern flaps, which are expected to make a transition to commercial and recreational water craft. 
3)    A mini-powered with fuel cells was also parked in the bay.  Apparently, the Navy in Hawaii in cooperation with the other military branches is helping General Motors test its fuel cell powered Equinox crossover SUV.  If the batteries past muster, then the Navy may adopt their use in unmanned underwater vehicles.  The efficient vehicle projects are coordinated by the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

It seems our military personnel are protecting us on many fronts, including the battle against waste and excess that threatens all of us at home….another reason to be very grateful to our men and women in uniform.

Neither the author of the Small Cap Strategist web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein.

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