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News Stories
Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC)

Fueling Forward: Enabling Distributed Lethality 

by By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist RJ Stratchko, Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group Public Affairs
10 August 2021 There’s an orange glow of the sun peaking over the horizon, the sound of waves crashing on the beach. In the distance, a ship off-shore comes into view and the hum of a medium tactical vehicle replacement (MTVR) from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE (NCHB-1) approaches down the beach. It’s time to move some fuel!

The blue-green team of the Navy and Marine Corps expeditionary forces allows for bulk fuels transferred over the beach by littoral crafts or a distributed littoral operational fuel transfer system (DLOFTS) moving fuel from the blue water to a forward arming and refueling point (FARP) and is all done with a small footprint.

“We’re bridging the gap between the blue water Navy and an onshore FARP about 65 miles inland,” said Lt. Cmdr. Austin Rasbach, TWENTY SECOND Naval Construction Regiment (22 NCR). “In theory, any ship that has tanks or deck space turns into a gas station –– A team like this can transfer the fuel into their collapsible fabric tanks and get it to the shore and then on to a FARP.” 

A FARP operates with minimum personnel and little to no heavy lifting equipment. They are designed to provide fuel and ordnance to aircraft in remote locations to reduce the time between turns for aircraft while conducting missions. The FARP has proven to save time and increase the time-on-target for each aircraft sortie. 

As part of large scale exercise 2021 (LSE 2021), the 22 NCR led the operational planning efforts and exercised command and control of the fuel evolutions which coordinated multiple commands to complete moving the fuel from the blue waters, through the littorals, and inland to a FARP. The joint effort included personnel from: Navy Cargo Handling Battalion ONE, 1st Platoon; Assault Craft Unit TWO, Landing Craft Utility 1662; Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit TWO; Marine Wing Support Squadron 271, Aviation Mobility Company, FARP Platoon; Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadrons (VP) 26, VP-16, VP-8, and VP-5; Penn State University Applied Research Lab; Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division; and Military Sealift Command.

“There’s a whole conglomeration of different Naval and Marine Corps forces that are coming together to make this happen, you have folks from Navy, Marine Corps, Naval Sea Systems Command, and Researchers –– seeing the operation come together with the right subject matter experts on the ground and then seeing what lessons we can learn is paramount,” said Navy Capt. Kemit W. Spears, Commander, 22 NCR. “This absolutely highlights how we can operate in a world where we would have to move around in a more distributive manner.” 

DLOFTS and a FARP can be set up and moved in hours depending on the size and number of aircraft they were set up to service.

“We’re trying to get in and get out in a day or period of darkness, we’re not a sustainment system, we’re an expeditionary capability,” said Dr. Frank Leban, Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division Research & Development Manager. “We had to come up with hose management schemes between a vessel that is dynamically positioned and the beach –– getting things through the surf zone has been the challenge and I think where we are now is a workable solution.”

Exercises like this demonstrate the interoperability of our forces, as well as the ability our units have to integrate with other services, reinforcing a culture of learning and increasing our warfighting readiness.

“Being out on these events I am gaining a lot of experience especially in the expeditionary part –– working with the Marines has provided me a lot of knowledge on equipment and operations which I will take back to NCHB-1,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 1st Class Carlo Silva, who was part of the bulk fuel over the beach, DLOFTS, and the FARP.

LSE 2021 demonstrates the Navy’s ability to employ precise, lethal, and overwhelming force globally across three naval component commands, five numbered fleets, and 17 time zones. The exercise merges live and synthetic training capabilities to create an intense, robust training environment. It will connect high-fidelity training and real-world operations, to build knowledge and skills needed in today’s complex, multi-domain, and contested environment.