Sept. 1, 2018 —
The departure of the final barge of jet fuel marked the end of an era for the historic Defense Fuel Support Point Yorktown, Virginia, June 6.
The transfer of 150,000 barrels of jet fuel to the Military Sealift Command fuel barge, Petrochem Producer, and the drawdown of fuel to tank-bottom levels marked the start of the final accountability process for the 117-year-old, government-owned, contractor-operated fuel terminal.
DFSP Yorktown ceased fuel operations in June, said Naval Supply System Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk Regional Fuel Director David Henderson. “Naval Facilities Command will issue a Defense Logistics Agency Energy
-funded demolition contract and, after demolition, the property will be available to the Navy for alternate uses,” he said.
Although the terminal was managed by Naval Supply Systems Command, DLA Energy is responsible for funding and overseeing the maintenance, repair, sustainment, restoration, modernization and recapitalization of the military’s fuel structure that contains DLA fuel. DLA Energy has fuel stored in 465 DFSPs throughout the U.S. and around the world.
DLA Energy’s ability to divest of aged infrastructure and reduce excess capacity helps provide the most cost-effective, efficient solutions and frees up resources for higher priorities. Closing the Yorktown fuel terminal will also save the federal government $101 million in renovation costs.
Keith Stedman is the director of DLA Energy Supply Chain Management. He provides the enterprise-level management of DFSP operations and the DLA-owned bulk petroleum inventory.
“When we have an aged facility, like DFSP Yorktown, we go through a process to decide if it is worth recapitalization,” Stedman said. “In 2011, economic analysis recommended the closure of DFSP Yorktown and realignment of fuel terminal operations to DFSP Craney Island.”
DLA was able to close DFSP Yorktown because of the expansion and consolidation of the government-owned, contractor-operated DFSP Craney Island. In fiscal year 2015, a $36.5 million military construction plan was approved to replace and alter the fuel distribution facilities at DFSP Craney Island. The improvements include a new truck rack, pipeline modifications and conversion of two 100,000-barrel tanks from JP5 to Jet A jet fuel.
DFSP Yorktown’s closure reduces underground fuel storage and creates more resilient fuel tanks, as witnessed by the successful closure of the World War II-era DFSP San Pedro, California, in March.
DSFP Yorktown’s tanks were built underground in the 1950s to protect against aerial bombardment and provide F24 aviation turbine fuel received through the Colonial Pipeline from Houston, Texas. The fuel was distributed by barge and truck, primarily to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. The historic fuel terminal has 10 underground fuel tanks built in 1953, which will be demolished. Pier piping and equipment will also be removed.
Four cut-and-cover tanks were demolished in 2015 and soil remediation was completed. Today, deer graze on land where the underground fuel tanks used to store F24 and JP8. Outside the fuel farm is the historic site of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.
DFSP Yorktown Terminal Manager Tony Bowman said the industry is moving away from underground fuel facilities.
“It is safer on the environment,” Bowman said. “You can see fuel leaks sooner when tanks and pipes are above ground, and they are easier to maintain.”
Stedman explained the history of underground tanks. “Depending on the threat, particularly in coastal areas, tanks were built underground to prevent shrapnel damage,” he said. “The technology and security threats have changed, and the trend today is to have fewer larger tanks in the U.S. Replacing the older single-wall tanks and right-sizing underground fuel storage offers better protection with lower risk.”
DLA Energy Americas at Houston oversees the truck and barge fuel shipments in and out of Yorktown. The closure of Yorktown and the transfer of operations to Craney Island is a positive change, according to DLA Energy experts.
“The transition to DFSP [Craney Island] is almost transparent operations for us,” said John Stublar, DLA Energy Americas at Houston Eastern Seaboard team supervisor. “Product that shipped from Houston would be fully additized at Craney using its new fuel-injection systems.
“If we didn’t have the new truck rack at DFSP Craney, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Stublar added.
Soil testing and surveys will be conducted at the DFSP Yorktown to prepare the land for future use.
“DFSP Yorktown has an awesome workforce and is well maintained, providing exceptional warfighter support for many years,” Henderson said. “However, closing this facility rather than recapitalizing the pier and tanks is the right decision for taxpayers and the Department of Defense.”