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News | Aug. 12, 2021

Fueling DoD’s northernmost installation

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs

Once a year, when the weather and ice conditions allow, Defense Logistics Agency Energy experts plan for the delivery of fuel to the Defense Department’s northernmost installation, Thule Air Base, Greenland

In late July, DLA Energy quality assurance specialists took advantage of the warmer weather to load the Military Sealift Command marine tanker ship, MAERSK PEARY, and transport specialty jet fuel from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to the Defense Fuel Support Point on the air base.

“We know that getting fuel supplies to that part of the world is very difficult because climate conditions present a limited window of opportunity for safe passages,” said DLA Energy Europe & Africa Quality Manager Michael Crutcher. “The best overall chance to achieve total mission success comes by once a year.”

Thule Air Base, located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle and about 950 miles south of the North Pole, is blocked by ice nine months out of the year. Each summer, ice breaking ships push through the ice to clear a path for cargo ships. The bay will freeze again by mid- October, isolating the installation to resupply from either dogsled, or aircraft.

The additive injected fuel delivered supports U.S Air Force and U.S Space Force operations conducted in the strategic region. 

DLA Energy Europe & Africa Quality Assurance Specialist Tom Roelle provided quality assurance oversight on jet fuel procurement shipped from a refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands. 

“Loading a tanker ship is one of the most complex operations that a QAR will accomplish,” he said. “The contracted fuel provider brings commercial grade jet fuel that’s been treated with additives, necessary to operate in austere weather. We conduct strict testing to ensure the product meets military grade JP8 specifications. If it passes our quality control parameters, we will authorize the product be loaded onto the ship.” 

On Aug. 2, the MAERSK PEARY navigated through ice formations and powered through poor weather and low visibility to successfully deliver critical fuel supplies to Thule. Once the fuel arrived, it was tested again to be sure it was not contaminated during transit. 

“With the way things are going with the climate, we are able to resupply Thule AB once per year and supplies last for one year,” said DLA Energy Europe & Africa Inventory Management Branch Senior Advisor Hauke Dins. 

“This year’s operation is another great example of how the Energy Europe & Africa Quality Team monitors and ensures success during challenging fuel deliveries to the customer,” said DLA Energy Europe & Africa Deputy Director Gary Parsons. “Getting fuel to arrive on-specification and in accordance with DoD/DLA requirements is a team effort – and our team is top notch.”

In addition to fuel, DLA Distribution supported Pacer Goose Sustainment, a defense replenishment mission that recently delivered cargo and supplies the Thule AB.