In the previous couple of posts I have described a range of potential solutions for a rapidly installed pier head and shore connecting pier with a range of handling equipment for break bulk, containerised and RORO cargo.
The final type of cargo is liquids, ordinarily fuels and water.
For water, the preferred option would be to avoid transporting it over the shore completely, although a vital component of any operation it is generally much more efficient to transport the means to obtain and process it suitable for use as close to the point of need as possible. Pumping bulk potable water from a ship, across the pier head and pier should therefore be seen as a last resort when other options are unavailable.
Therefore, I am going to concentrate on fuel, a liquid that cannot be obtained from rivers, streams, lakes or boreholes and purified in situ.
Modern forces have a very high and increasing fuel demand and with the increasing use of air conditioning, local power generation and all manner of electronic devices this is a trend unlikely to reverse. The general trend towards larger and heavier vehicles also results in a hefty fuel demand, even if they are not charging great distances.
Estimated demand scales for fuel usage from even a few years ago, must by now be completely out of date.
The reality of most operations is that a force will be able to make use of fuel already available in theatre but the assumption must be that an expeditionary force brings its own.
The last significant operation that UK forces carried out that had to land large quantities of fuel was Operation Corporate, the retaking of the Falkland Islands in 1982.
There were some salutary lessons learned there regarding bulk fuel, the force landed in 1982 was extremely ‘vehicle light’, those vehicles that were landed generally had much lower fuel consumption than those now in service and there were no multi screen cineplexes masquerading as Brigade HQ’s like there is today!
Operation Corporate fuel logistics were compounded by a lack of a single fuel policy but maintaining even modest petrol stocks for the handful of Rapier battery’s placed a massive strain on the available vertical lift. Much of the fuel landed was via the medium of a single 4 Tonne Bedford POD shuttling between ship and shore on a Mexeflote or landing craft and discharging into jerrycans
Fuel was always a problem, after MOGAS (motor gasoline) for the Rapier units, AVGAS for the San Carlos FOB was a top priority. At its peak the FOB dispensed over 50,000 litres of fuel per and supported nearly 120 aircraft movements per day.
So although we now enjoy the benefits of a single fuel policy and much expanded vertical lift the demand side of the equation is not balanced by these changes.
Any ship to shore logistics capability must therefore consider fuel, and maybe water.
Joint Operational Fuel System (JOFS)
In 2010 KBR were awarded a £22m contract to deliver the Joint Operational Fuel System (JOFS). JOFS is a broad ranging system designed for operational and exercise use.
JOFS is defined as;
JOFS is a generic term covering all special purpose military equipment designed to enable the receipt, storage, testing and treatment, and supply of bulk fuel quickly, safely and efficiently on deployed joint operations, within the Land environment anywhere in the world, in diverse climatic conditions, over extended lines of communication, for extended periods of time and where the Host Nation’s infrastructure is broken, damaged or non-existent
To quote QinetiQ (who were involved with the decision support, bid support modelling)
The goal of the Joint Operational Fuel System was to deliver a fully integrated modular military fuel capability that will receive, store, test/blend, dispense and distribute bulk fuel from ship to shore, by air transport, by bulk carrying vehicle, by rail tanker, by inland waterway and using host nation support. This system will replace ageing fuel handling equipments which will not meet the demands of future expeditionary operations. The current deployable fuel handling capability for expeditionary operations, known as Tactical Fuel Handling Equipment, is supplied by a plethora of individual systems. It is based around cold war designs and is not considered expeditionary by the user community
The project manager added;
In all there were sixteen diﬀerent equipment lines when the project was started. The equipment could only be operated in a static location. Equipment had not been designed for rapid movement and ease of use in the ﬁeld. We needed to develop a solution that delivered the fuel to the right place at the right time and in the right quantity
The complete Joint Operational Fuel System, as can be seen from the image below) is pretty comprehensive and includes ship to shore elements but entirely correctly, priority has been given to operational use in Afghanistan.
Earlier this year Vikoma were awarded a £2.5 sub contract from KBR to deliver a number of ruggedised powerpacks for pumping equipment and tanker rollover spill containment systems. This new contract was to add to a previous one, the output from which have been successfully used in Afghanistan. Another manufacturer, Barum and Dewar, provided the specialist storage cases.
Joint Operational Fuel Systems Project (JOFS) pumps, 160 of them, come in three flavours, Light Forces Pump (LFP) with a capacity of 400 litres per minute at 4 bar, Medium Duty Pump (MDP) with a capacity of 680 Litres per minute at 6 bar and the Heavy Duty Pump (HDP) with a capacity of 2,000 litres per minute at 6 bar. These pumps can be remotely powered up to 15m away from the Vikoma powerpacks, this means they are outside of the hazardous area
The system is compatible with current Air Portable Fuel Containers (APFC) and can be used with either Aviation or Diesel fuel, depending what assets require re-fuelling. The Small Container Convoy Refuelling System (SCCRS) is designed to provide a 7 point refuelling unit for refuelling multiple vehicles at once.
Most of the JOFS components are provided by the UK company, DESMI, who also provide much of the pumping equipment for RN/RFA vessels and RAF fuel installations. DESMI produce some excellent fuel packages, the Aviation Fuelling System, Bulk Fuel Installation for Temporary Sites, Containerised Ground Fuel Stations, Air Landed Aircraft Refuelling Point (ALARP), Forward Air Refuelling Point (FARP), Helicopter/Light Aircraft Refuelling System and Air Delivered Bulk Fuel Installation
Storage and handling of fuels and lubricants is a complex and demanding business, especially the relationships between military and civilian regulations and who does what across the three services and within (RE and RLC), have a read of JSP 317 if you don’t believe me!
Any system deployed would need to be compatible with the UK JOFS but also various NATO standards and the US ELCAS capability.
Tankers and Tank Containers
One option to meet the fuel demands of an embarked force is to use existing vehicle stock landed onto the CONCEPT 2 Pier Head via RORO ships.
This is simple, requires no additional equipment and would be relatively quick, but we don’t have that many and they would displace other vehicles beyond those normally scaled.
Moving bulk fuel, transferring to smaller vehicles or packed is something the RLC/RE do as part of their day job, but we should consider alternatives.
Driving a tanker off a RORO vessel onto the pier head, down the pier and to wherever, would seem to be a very simple option
Close Support Tanker and Tactical Refueller
Both use the Oshkosh MTVR derived tractor
Unit Support Tanker
Replacing the old 4 Tonne Bedford UBRE ‘PODS’ is the MAN Support Vehicle Unit Support Tanker, 81 of them
Tank Containers and Jerrycans
Palletised jerry cans are a simple means of transporting packed fuel and tank containers are being increasingly used, again, relatively simple for any suitable truck, especially STANAG 2413 hook lift type DROPS or EPLS type vehicles
The Fuel Dispensing Rack (10 of) has been obtained by the MoD from the German company WEW for use in Afghanistan, integrated with JOFS. They can hold and dispense up to 9,500 litres and have replaced the older DROPS Pallet UBRE equipment, now on sale.
Without the dispensing equipment, simple tank containers could also be used with a capacity of 26,000 litres
Conventional containers can also be converted and if pilferage might be an issue, tank containers that look like normal containers can also be used, click here to see examples.
Although this concept is ostensibly about the higher capacity logistics enablement air delivery of fuel is still worth considering and the air portable containers can also be used in a non airborne manner.
The Mk5 Air Portable Fuel Container from GKN Aerospace has been used in Afghanistan and can hold a couple of tonnes each.
The ATMP Fuel Cat can make excellent use of the APFC, a self contained system for the delivery and dispensing of fuel
Dracones are large rubber bladders that can be filled with fuel and towed to shore, basically, a big rubber tube sealed at both ends. They might sound flimsy but are far from it, resistant to damage from rocks and other obstructions.
They were invented in the late 1950′s at Cambridge University by William Rede Hawthorne and have been developed by Goodyear, now Trelleborg and DESMI since to increase capacities, the largest now able to hold over 900 cubic metres.
Once towed and dragged ashore, pipes are connected and their contents pumped out. In the right circumstances dracones can be very effective and are simple and cheap although handling is not easy, apparently
It is worth noting that they were used in the Falkland Islands before the Argentine invasion and in this spectacular example of failing to benefit from extensive forward vision, from Hansard
HC Deb 18 January 1982 vol 16 c34W 34W
Mr. Shersby asked the Secretary of State for Defence if, in view of the usefulness of the “Dracone” to the Falkland Islands Government, as in the recent case where its use enabled fresh water to be supplied to the Polish factory ship “Gryt Pomorski” at Port Stanley, he will now donate the “Dracone” to the Government of the Islands instead of requiring it to be brought back to the United Kingdom by HMS “Endurance” in the spring of 1982.
Mr. Blaker No. There is a continuing defence requirement for the “Dracone” in the United Kingdom.
Here is one (Towed Flexible Barge) in use, down south (courtesy of the RE Association)
A higher capacity solution would require the use of a tanker, some pipeline to the shore and the appropriate storage and dispensing equipment at the ‘beachhead’ or Beach Support Area as it evolves to a Combat Service Support Area
Over the Shore
Although JOFS does have an other the shore element the best example of large scale fuel offload over the shore is from the US
The MSC MV K.R. Wheeler is a modified DP2 Platform Supply Vessel built by Edison Chouest and was introduced in 2007 to replace the SS Chesapeake and SS Petersburg.
She carries eight miles of pipeline on 5 large spools that can be lifted onto INLS causeways ferries and other lighterage. This is double the distance of the OPDS system and can be deployed much quicker with fewer personnel. Instead of using cumbersome mooring lines the KR Wheeler makes use of dynamic positioning and the 165 foot long tender vessel, the MV Fast Tempo, is used to run the pipes from the Wheelers stern to tankers and ashore from the bow.
The Fast Tempo was formerly a crew boat designed and built by Breaux Brothers of Louisiana
A LARC is used to carry the Beach Terminal Unit to shore where it is linked to other pipeline, pumping, storage and distribution systems
Pumping rate is 1.7 million US gallons per 20 hours.
The new system is now called the Offshore Petroleum Distribution System, still OPDS though. It can also be used for fresh water.
The final and most important advantage of the new system is that the specially constructed, multiple layer flexible pipe can be laid over rocks and coral.
What the Wheeler has shown is that modern commercially available materials and systems can radically improve capabilities and reduce costs, read more here
If CONCEPT 2 were utilise an over the shore instead of connecting to the Pier Head this would be an idea system to resuse.
Pier Head Connector
An alternative to the system used by the US ELCAS would be to utilise the CONCEPT 2 Pier Head and Connecting Pier.
Conceptually, pumping bulk fuel ashore down the pier is very simple but the devil will be in the details.
Downsides, one would of course be putting all ones eggs in a single basket and when offloading hazardous fuels it would not be desirable to conduct other ship offloading operations, so throughput of other cargo would take a dip.
Operating at risk would be possible but it would have to be confined to ‘needs must’ type scenarios.
Having the appropriate pumping equipment on the CONCEPT 2 Pier Head ship would not present any significant challenges and given their size, they might even be able to act as a storage facility, pumping to shore on demand regardless of the presence of a tanker. Depending on the mooring configuration used dracones could be close moored to the Pier Head to act as floating storage facilities of storage onshore was restricted.
A jackstay type rig might also be considered if the fuel or replenishment vessel could be held steady
Getting the fuel ashore, down the Pier, is a little more of a challenge because fuel pipelines and vehicle traffic are not the best of bedfellows.
It could be possible to pre-install metal pipe into the pier span structures, the Mabey Quick Span example described in the previous post. These could be installed in multiples and connected with flexible joints. Connecting at both ends of every single span does sound labour intensive even though it would probably be the neatest solution.
An alternative would be to install a pipeline and electrical cable tray to the sides of the pier deck.
Hook on or swing out supports that carry drop in multi span mesh cable tray would be quick to install and allow the use of continuous flexible pipeline(s) by supporting them along their entire length with simple spanning pieces dropped into the small gaps at pier supports.
Because it would be side mounted it would not interfere with vehicle traffic in any way. Installation of the flexible pipe down the length of the pier would be carried out by a vehicle mounted dispenser reel and a manifold fitted at the shore interface to allow multiple directions of pipeline to storage and dispensing facilities.
Sources and Further Reading
Other Posts in the Series