NEWS | March 22, 2021

Guam fuel systems benefit from recurring maintenance program

By Connie Braesch DLA Energy Public Affairs

The island of Guam’s breezes, salt air and tropical climate is a paradise, but for fuel infrastructure on Andersen Air Force Base it’s a destructive mix. 

Defense Logistics Agency Energy is taking a proactive preventative approach to stay on top of the island’s corrosive environment and maintain vital fuel systems. 

“No matter what we do, components will corrode over time, and Guam is an especially harsh environment,” said Eric Parsha, DLA Energy project manager supporting Andersen AFB. “While some of the equipment on Andersen looked bad, much of it was in good shape and just needed new restorative coating.” 

Coatings, a special paint that withstands chemical reactions, are important to maintaining the integrity of components, Parsha said. The fuel is under high pressure, so it is imperative that the steel’s strength is not compromised. 

Parsha is part of a team of DLA managers that coordinates fuel system maintenance funding on Air Force installations worldwide. He is the lead for several locations within the Pacific theater. He said they all have different challenges.

“Andersen’s weather contributes to faster corrosion, but there are other locations where snow and ice damage systems annually and limit the available time to complete work,” he said. “On Andersen, our focus is shifting to more frequent, smaller-scale maintenance to avoid large scale corrective repairs. The goal is to improve readiness and maintain a high standard, for a longer period.”

Andersen AFB is a strategically located installation that supports operations in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theater of operations. In 2018, DLA Energy funded a corrosion control survey of the installation’s entire fuel system, resulting in a series of service orders and projects.

Eric Wiedemann, chief of DLA Energy Facility Sustainment Program Management Division, explained that the DLA Energy Recurring Maintenance and Minor Repair, or RMMR, program began about 10 years ago and has significantly expanded in the past five years.

“We were great at the big multimillion dollar projects like replacing an entire pipeline, but we had a gap when it came to recurring maintenance and minor repairs,” Wiedemann said. “The RMMR program is very proactive. It focuses on preventative maintenance and executing minor repairs on a shortened timeline since much of the work done under this program is non-technical in nature.”

The program executes 5,000-6,000 service orders each year and has helped avoid larger more costly projects, Wiedemann added.  

Parsha compares the remediation program to doing oil and filter changes on cars. 

“If you take good care of your car day to day, you are less likely to have major failures,” he said. 

With mission support in mind, the RMMR team built a plan for maintenance work on Guam taking into consideration the remote location, limited resources, and humid environments. They found alternative but equally effective materials to save money, reduce man hours and avoid expensive climate control measures. They also implemented a phasing plan to minimize down time. 

“The Army Corps of Engineers synchronized replacement of mechanical parts and repairs with post repair coating work, to keep constant progress and prevent newly repaired items from corroding,” Parsha said. “They provided on-site inspection and certification of the work. This all occurred despite COVID challenges.”

John Anna, chief of the Air Force Petroleum Office Infrastructure Division, said the effort was a “dynamic team approach.”  

“Between DLA Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Huntsville, Alabama), Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Air Force Petroleum Office, and base personnel, we developed a comprehensive plan to recover the Andersen AFB fueling infrastructure to a satisfactory operating condition,” he said. “We are using the DLA Energy tools available to proceed with this estimated $150 million plan that will take 3-5 years to execute.”  

Wiedemann and Parsha agreed it is a team effort on all levels. From the installation through the Major Commands and the civilian contractors that executed the work, they were all “under the hood” making it all run like a well-oiled machine.

Special thanks to:

  • Air Force Petroleum Office’s John Anna, Dave King, and Air Force Master Sgt. Hugh Mulhern
  • Pacific Air Forces Command Fuel Engineer Robert Campbell and Lee Watros
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers RMMR program manager Rich Resler and project engineer Keith Southard
  • Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Peter Cruz, Jeff Ekdahl, and Isaias Herrera
  • 36th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Dave Laguana, Air Force Tech Sgt. Jewett and Staff Sgt. Justin Ford
  • 36th Logistics Readiness Squadron Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Halko, Master Sgt. Kyle Beck, Tech Sgt. Eric Hyde, Tech Sgt. Nate Judd, Tech Sgt. Jason Ornellas
  • Civilian construction manager Gary Schoenhals 
  • Patty Beyer, DLA Energy lead for the RMMR contract and program coordination, as well as DLA engineers in the Pacific, John Mervin and Harry Pham.