Commander’s Perspective — Great Green Fleet and New Ships

Commander’s Perspective



There has been much positive discussion recently about our Navy’s Great Green Fleet. The goal of our Great Green Fleet is to deploy energy efficient systems and use alternative energy to increase combat capability and operational flexibility.

This strategy gives us advantages in the areas of combat effectiveness, strategic flexibility and force protection.

Once again, our Military Sealift Command team is right in the middle of this Navy initiative. Last month, at the launch of our Great Green Fleet out of San Diego, our fleet oiler USNS Guadalupe replenished the destroyer USS William P. Lawrence with alternative fuel.

The alternative fuel is a mix of regular ship diesel fuel and biofuel made from waste beef fat. Importantly, the alternative fuel is “drop-in,” meaning it requires no changes to ship engines, transport or delivery equipment.

One of our fast combat support ships, USNS Rainier, will accompany the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group on its deployment, replenishing ships with this alternative fuel mix.

MSC, through our civilian mariners, fleet oilers and fast combat support ships, enables our Great Green Fleet to operate forward while using this alternative fuel mix. MSC is directly supporting our Navy’s energy initiative.

Our next ESB – USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams


Our first expeditionary mobile base (ESB), USNS Lewis B. Puller, arrived in Norfolk, Virginia, last fall. The ship is undergoing scheduled evaluations and will head to the fleet next year. The message we are receiving loud and clear from the fleet and combatant commanders is, “this is a great capability and we are ready to use this platform now.” The good news is that two more of these platforms are in the works.

Recently, our Secretary of the Navy announced our next ESB will be named USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams.

Hershel Williams joined our U.S. Marine Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. Williams was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman for actions during the battle of Iwo Jima. Reading just one sentence from his MOH citation gives you an idea of the heroism displayed by Cpl. Williams; that sentence reads, “Covered only by four riflemen, he fought desperately for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flamethrowers, struggling back, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another.”

We are honored to have a Military Sealift Command ship named after this great American hero. Let us strive to be as dedicated in our personal and professional lives as Hershel Williams was to our nation.

Finally, I must recognize our crew of our oceanographic survey ship, USNS Pathfinder, who recently conducted an at-sea rescue. After hearing a mayday call from a sailboat five nautical miles west of the ship’s position in the Atlantic Ocean, the crew transited to the dismasted sailboat and rescued the man on board. To the crew of Pathfinder, we thank you for your courage, professionalism and determined efforts to assist those in need.

I am proud of our people and the amazing work you do each and every day to serve our Navy and other government agencies. Thank you!


Rear Adm. T. K. Shannon, USN

Commander, Military Sealift Command

About dgriesmer