PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) continues to be at the forefront of the Navy's "green" efforts of energy conservation and reducing its carbon footprint, as it is the first ship of its kind to feature an all electric capability.
The ship hosts a hybrid-electric propulsion system, comprised of two auxiliary propulsion motors, two General Electric LM2500+ turbines and six diesel-electric generators with a controllable pitch propeller.
"Makin Island is the first naval vessel to utilize an electric drive that produces very little emissions, saves large amounts of fuel and adds an additional capability to remain on station between refueling three times longer than traditional LHDs," said Lt. Cmdr. Raul Santospieve, Makin Island's main propulsion assistant.
During its maiden deployment in 2012, it is noted that the ship's more modern propulsion system saved more than four million gallons of fuel, which helped to significantly reduce carbon emissions into the environment as well as a cost savings in excess of $15 million.
"The new systems are operated by a central control station with very few local operators, reducing the amount of manpower required," said Machinist Mate 2nd Class (SW) Zachary Long, assigned to Makin Island's engineering department.
"Propulsion and environmental systems are all monitored through alarms and automatic logs. We still monitor many systems with manual logs, but many times the remote cameras mounted throughout the ship assist the engineers with troubleshooting and system monitoring," Long added.
According to the ship's engineering log books, Makin Island's unique design helps the ship to burn nearly 50 percent less fuel than a traditional steam-powered LHD.
While underway, Makin Island implements an energy saving propulsion method called "sprint and drift." The ship uses one of its twin 70,000-horsepower gas turbine engines to sprint ahead of the plan of intended movement (PIM), where it then transitions to auxiliary propulsion operations to operate at slower speed and conserve fuel until the ship falls back on PIM.
"This technique can be used repeatedly especially during long transits as a planning tool for fuel and energy conservation," said Santospieve.
The hybrid-electric drive is not the only "green" feature in Makin Island's strategic energy-efficient design. The ship uses a stern flap to improve fuel economy, an anti-fouling coating on the hull to minimize drag, and solid-state lighting is used to reduce energy consumption.
Makin Island utilizes four onboard reverse osmosis water-purification systems to generate fresh potable water at sea. The ship has the ability to make more than 200,000 gallons of fresh water daily, which is more than what is needed to keep operational.
"We aggressively work to conserve water through training and routine inspections of the systems," said Santospieve.
The Department of the Navy expects that over the course of Makin Island's lifecycle, this kind of fuel and energy reduction, and water conservation will add up to more than $250 million in savings, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
In 2012, Makin Island received the Secretary of the Navy's Energy Conservation Award for its significant contributions to energy awareness and was recently selected as one of the Recyclers of the Year in the 2014 Waste Reduction and Recycling Awards Program by the city of San Diego.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, which is in its work-up cycle in preparation for its upcoming deployment.