US Navy Pacific Operations Get Support from DLA Energy

Defense Logistics Agency Energy is enabling U.S. operations in and around the world’s largest ocean through an initiative that enables flexible fuel support to U.S. Pacific Command.

Working in coordination with DLA Energy, Military Sealift Command contracted a U.S.-flagged vessel in October 2014 to support fuel distribution requirements primarily within USPACOM’s area of responsibility.

DLA Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod, said:

We are responding to mission support requirements in the [USPACOM AOR] and focusing on our customers to meet their requirements. One of those requirements is increasing our fuel capability and storage in the Pacific.

DLA Energy partners with MSC to charter petroleum product tankers to meet DLA Energy’s product movement requirements.

Ocean tankers that support DLA Energy’s fuel product movements are contracted by MSC, on either a long-term charter basis for periods of up to a year or a short-term charter basis, which can include single voyages or multiple voyages over short periods of time, said DLA Energy Chief of Inventory and Distribution Management Sean Lucas.

Lucas added:

We develop our movement requirements and pass them to MSC in both times of peace and war. The vessel is operating on a short-term charter until solicitations for longer term support are closed and awarded. The vessel will be used to distribute fuel throughout the theater to resupply defense fuel support points. To achieve most efficient utilization, during periods where DLA Energy requirements do not support specific tasking, the asset will hold product, effectively providing a floating storage capability, further enhancing flexibility.

In response to DLA Energy requirements, MSC entered into a charter party agreement for a medium-range U.S. flagged tanker. The Maersk Michigan was chosen for the mission. Built in 2003, the ship holds up to 310,000 barrels of fuel and is manned by a crew of 21 U.S. citizen civilian merchant mariners.

Lucas continued:

The advantage to leasing a medium-range tanker is that it has the appropriate capacity to transport a typical refinery parcel size of [13 million gallons of fuel] while still having the appropriate characteristics to safely call at DLA facilities throughout the PACOM AOR. It made economic sense to bring [it] on full time for a year and to use the ship as a readiness enhancer.

The goal is to award a long-term charter in early 2015 after the short-term charter expires, Lucas said.

The standard MSC long-term charter contract calls for a one-year base contract with options for up to four more years. Additionally, once the long term is chartered, MSC will also install cargo consolidation capability, which provides the ability to refuel Navy oilers underway, therefore enhancing operational flexibility.

In addition to the Maersk Michigan, MSC supports DLA Energy fuel movements worldwide with four other long-term chartered U.S. flag tankers and one government-owned tanker, as well as spot charters moving more than 1.26 billion gallons of fuel annually.

Press release, Image: DLA