DLA Energy-contracted fuel trucks headed to Puerto Rico

By Tanekwa Bournes, DLA Energy Public Affairs

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More than 100 Defense Logistics Agency Energy-contracted fuel trucks carrying 299,000 gallons of fuel arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico via barge in support of Federal Emergency Management Agency Hurricane Maria relief operations, Oct. 3.

An additional order for six trucks with 15,000 gallons of propane and equipment is scheduled to arrive by barge, Oct. 6.

DLA Energy continues to work with Foster Fuels, the FEMA contingency fuels contractor operator Foster Fuels to develop a plan to deliver fuel to the commonwealth island.

“The concept to deploy Task Force Americas and over 100 Foster Fuels trucks to Puerto Rico started last week with [DLA Energy Americas Commander] Army Col. Craig Simonsgaard challenging us and the team at [Fort] Belvoir about what we should be doing to ensure we are set to meet the emerging crisis,” said DLA Energy Americas Operations Support Director David Ray.

Currently, there are 43 fuel trucks able to support fuel distribution on Puerto Rico, Ray added. DLA Energy will provide command and control for the FEMA contingency fuels contract as they have previously done for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida. Foster Fuels will provide ground fuels, diesel and gasoline to FEMA, Department of Defense, National Guard and other federal agencies as required. Two DLA Energy quality assurance representatives arrived in Puerto Rico and are providing assessments of the fuel infrastructure and bulk petroleum expertise to the U.S. Army 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command and FEMA.

“It is truly an enterprise effort requiring the DLA enterprise, FEMA, U.S. Northern Command and Foster Fuels to make this happen,” Ray said.

USNORTHCOM deployed U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, USNORTHCOM’s Joint Force Land Component Command commander, to serve as the DOD’s primary liaison to FEMA as the response efforts transition from a sea-based to a land-based operation. 

USNORTHCOM’s current role is as the lead DOD organization supporting FEMA to meet the needs and priorities of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and continues to conduct 24-hour operations supporting FEMA in the areas of logistics, commodity distribution and hospital sustainment.

NORTHCOM has a great relationship with FEMA and both organizations have a clear understanding of Foster Fuels capabilities, Simonsgaard explained. 

“DLA Energy Americas has cultivated a close working relationship with NORTHCOM by participating in NORTHCOM exercises and conducting a table top exercise with NORTHCOM and Foster Fuels to train the NORTHCOM and DLA staffs about utilizing Foster Fuels,” he said. “In addition, DLA Energy Americas trains for the FEMA contingency fuels contract by participating in the U.S. Army Reserve Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise on an annual basis.” 

DLA Energy Americas at Houston Commander and Task Force Americas Commander Army Lt. Col. Josielyn Carrasquillo and her team are assisting the effort in Puerto Rico and have been assisting hurricane relief efforts for more than 40 days since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, Aug. 24.

“Those people are the same people that had homes badly damaged in Houston, had their lives disrupted by flooding across their city and continue to not only support FEMA but make sure the rest of the DOD has enough fuel to do their missions (even though Houston refineries were knocked out by Harvey),” Simonsgaard said.

According to FEMA, there are more than 11,800 federal staff representing 36 departments and agencies, including more than 800 FEMA personnel on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who are engaged in response and recovery operations from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Hundreds of additional federal personnel are supporting response and recovery operations through mainland coordination centers and logistics facilities.

The FEMA federal coordinating officer on the ground is the head of the disaster response unified command structure on the ground and coordinates closely with the governor, federal partners and DOD leadership. This ensures the federal, territorial and the commonwealth  governments are able to capitalize on all the assets and resources available.