Wednesday, at the Office of Naval Research's Naval Energy Forum in McLean, Va., Navy Secretary Ray Mabus made some big announcements about the service's commitment to energy efficiency.
In brief, he said:
1. Change Navy and Marine Corps contract awards to factor in the lifetime energy cost of the product, and make industry accountable for meeting energy targets. Oh - and tell industry that how green their operations are will also affect the final contract decision.
2. By 2016, the Great Green Fleet will take to the world's oceans. It will be a totally green strike group composed of nuclear vessels, surface combatants powered by hybrid electric systems running on biofuels and a fleet of aircraft all powered by biofuel.
3. By 2015, reduce petroleum consumption of the Navy's 50,000-vehicle fleet by half.
4. By 2020, produce at least half shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources.
5. And cut total energy consumption for the ENTIRE Navy Department (ships, aircraft, shore installations, tanks, etc.) by half.
It all sounds great, although the industry piece may prove more of a hurdle than he thinks. Still, Mabus cited numerous instances where ONR is working with the fleet to reduce energy consumption (new anti-fouling coatings on ships, alternative fuel powered F/A-18s and more).
It feels as though the department is tired of getting scolded on Capitol Hill for overpriced and bloated programs (LCS, JSF, EFV, the list goes on) and doesn't want to foot the blame anymore. So the service is going to effectively force reform.
First there was the announcement of a new solicitation and eventual down-select to a single builder on the Littoral Combat Ship. Message to shipyards? We're tired of paying too much money for work that's not up to snuff. Sean Stackley said the Navy "had no reasonable basis to believe the LCS program would be executable under the current acquisition strategy."
Then, the program executive office for ships, led by Rear Adm. Bill Landay, called the press in to announce a new focus on shipbuilding. Although the Navy will be more responsible for establishing stable requirements up front, industry will have to "retire risk quickly and then get to a fixed-price contract," Landay said, noting only lead ships and high-risk programs should be cost contracts.
And now Mabus is asking industry to invest money in becoming greener and leaner and to build greener, leaner ships and equipment. I'll be interested to see what kind of reaction industry gives to all the efforts on the part of the Navy and Marines to "reform" how they do business. And whether Congress pats the department on the back for the new strategy.