Inspecting, repairing Warfighter Fuel Storage Tanks

By Irene Smith DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Defense Logistics Agency Energy hosted a meeting for industry and government partners on the maintenance and repair of Department of Defense and commercial fuel tanks at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Jan. 30.

Seventeen industry organizations consisting of 39 partners participated in the engagement and eight of them provided briefings to compare and contrast commercial and DoD tank sustainment processes.

“It’s our job to fix and maintain the fuel infrastructure,” said DLA Energy Facilities Sustainment Directorate Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization Division Chief Eric Wiedemann. “We wanted to see what industry thought of our clean, inspect and repair processes and procedures. We found out that we were more alike than different.”

Keeping fuel tanks functioning effectively and efficiently plays an important role in strengthening Warfighter readiness and lethality. The DLA Energy FSD funds the SRM for approximately 75 percent of the DoD fixed-fuel infrastructure via the defense working capital fund.

DLA Energy executes SRM activities through the Service military construction agents. In fiscal year 2018, DLA Energy FSD obligated more than $542.7 million on fixed fuel infrastructure maintenance and repairs around the globe. One hundred and twelve fuel tanks were returned to operational status.

“Previously when a fuel tank was taken out of service for maintenance and repair activities, it was out of service for an average of 20 months,” Wiedemann said. “By working closely with the Services and Construction Agents to streamline processes over the last few years, we have been able to decrease the out of service time to an average of 10 months.” 

DLA Energy is engaging with the commercial fuel industry in order to learn and incorporate new innovations and processes. In January, representatives from DLA Energy FSD and the Service Construction Agents met with representatives from Shell Oil Company and Phillips 66 in Houston, Texas. The meetings addressed how DoD cleans, inspects and repairs fuel tanks. The discussion focused on comparing DoD procedures with those of the major oil companies.

“Anytime industry and government can get together, we walk away smarter and understand one another better," said Debra Simpson, Branch Chief of the DLA Energy FSD Program Analysis and Master Planning Branch. "We’re always looking to improve our processes and strengthen military service readiness.”

The engagement with industry generated several action items which the FSD team will continue to work on with industry and the Services.

Feedback from industry attendees, Service Control Point members and the Service Construction Agents was positive.

“This was a very valuable meeting,” said Stephen Brooks, a professional engineer with Enterprise Engineering, Inc. “The topic of fuel tanks is near and dear to me. I’ve been a consulting engineer and tank inspector for 35 years. I’ve been in virtually every kind of tank the military owns. I hope we continue the discussion with the Service Construction Agents and put additional concentration on contract mechanisms and procedures.”

Representatives from Shell, Phillips 66 and many other industry partners have shown a strong willingness to continue to work with the DLA Energy FSD as the team continues to refine and improve processes.