WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 10 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
When people think of energy initiatives, it’s
usually in terms of conservation, or “going
green.” What does the term “energy” mean to
CULLOM: Energy is really like air. You take it for
granted until it’s not there. I know, as a surface warfare
officer aboard ships, I didn’t think much about who
was delivering my fuel. As long as it was there, I didn’t
care. But I think, increasingly, there are an awful lot
of things that are changing out there, both afloat and
ashore, that really should highlight where energy is
going in terms of its importance. I think it’s fundamentally changing and becoming ever more important.
Some of those changes are due to factors external
to ourselves, external to what the Navy necessarily is
even driving toward. For example, as we’re looking at
the changes in weapon systems, we’re moving more
toward unmanned and even changing the kinds of
weapons we use.
Instead of having a powder casing with a projectile on the end of it, we’re moving toward things like
laser weapon systems or rail guns. Those are energy
weapons. Energy is the weapon itself. The use of that
energy becomes ever more important than it used to
be. I think that’s one big change driving why we’re
looking at energy differently.
The other piece, too, is that we’re operating much
more in theaters where distance is challenging, so
energy and its use becomes critical. Forward presence
— we talk about it a lot — is really important when
The Leading Edge
With energy efficiency, technology initiatives
Navy aims to be at the forefront of innovation
As part of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ key energy initiatives, the
Stennis Carrier Strike Group deployed from San Diego in January as
the centerpiece of the Great Green Fleet 2016 year-long deployment.
The fleet uses alternative fuels, including nuclear power for the air-
craft carrier USS John C. Stennis and a blend of 90 percent tradi-
tional petroleum/10 percent advanced biofuel made from beef fat for
its escort ships. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and accompanying
aircraft tested a 50/50 blend in 2012 during the first demonstration
of the Great Green Fleet at the Rim of the Pacific exercise.
The Navy’s shift to alternative sources of energy afloat and ashore is
aimed not so much at savings as it is efficiencies and improved com-
bat effectiveness. “If it saves money, that’s great,” said Vice Adm.
Philip H. Cullom. “But at the end of the day, what this is really
about is ensuring that our Sailors at sea have the tools they need,
have the capability and can fight better than anyone else. That’s why
we’re doing this.”
Cullom became deputy chief of naval operations for Fleet Readiness
and Logistics in March 2012. Just prior to that, he served as director of the Energy and Environmental
Division on the Navy Staff. He discussed ongoing energy initiatives and the importance of innovation within
that realm with Editor in Chief Amy L. Wittman. Excerpts follow.