Gas by grass: transporting fuel by truck

By Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

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No matter how well jets are maintained, they can’t fly without fuel. That’s where the Fuels Management Flight comes in.

The primary way Joint Base Langley-Eustis receives fuel is by barge. However, in the event a barge is unable to deliver the fuel, it will be transported by truck.

The FMF conducted an annual Alternate Receipt Capability Exercise to ensure JBLE can receive fuel under any circumstances, March 10, 2020,

“It is essential that we have a way of receiving and delivering fuel to all mission-essential aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Zachary Zilch, 633rd Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Service Center non-commissioned officer in-charge. “We are periodically required to exercise our alternate receipt capabilities to validate our readiness posture and capabilities.”

Having a ready supply of fuel supports training and fighter mission requirements. If the primary means is rendered inoperable, the alternate fuel resupply actions are executed to meet the stringent fuel requirements.

Situations that can affect the delivery of fuel by barge include natural disasters, contingency requirements, weather issues such as shifts in tide, and any issues that may arise at the Defense Fuel Support Point in Craney Island, Virginia, where the fuel is delivered from.

“If we have a scheduled barge delivery that cannot be properly accommodated, we make a call and have commercial tank trucks here in 48 hours to be offloaded,” Zilch said. “That ability solidifies our readiness and ensures there is zero effect on the mission.”

Operations at JBLE use an average of 1.2 million gallons of fuel each month, depending on specific mission and training requirements.

Each barge contains 714,000 gallons of fuel. Each truck carries 7,500 gallons of fuel, so it takes approximately 95 trucks to equal one barge.

When fuel is delivered it is tested to ensure it meets or exceeds quality standards.

“We test different aspects of the fuel: visual, conductivity, fuels system ice inhibitor, flash point, particulate matter and water,” said Staff Sgt. Anthony DiTonno, 633rd LRS Fuels Laboratory non-commissioned officer in-charge. “Once the fuel is in the tanks we test it monthly for fuels system ice inhibitor and conductivity.”

Ensuring JBLE has a ready supply of high-quality fuel ensures jets are able to fly, pilots maintain flight hours and the mission continues smoothly.


Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Joint Base Langley-Eustis website.