USS Makin Island 
Official U.S. Navy file photo.
USS Makin Island Sailors Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 
SAN DIEGO  - A group of Sailors aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) educated their shipmates about ways to reduce the command's environmental impact while at sea Aug. 10-22.

Representatives of Makin Island's environmentally friendly "Green Team" informed their shipmates about how turning off lights and recycling metals and plastics can help save taxpayer dollars and the environment.

"The 'Green Team' is comprised of the First Class Petty Officer Association, along with myself and several other divisional representatives that look for ways to recycle, to save energy and to save lighting costs," said Ensign Anna Salvaggio, "Green Team" supervisor. "They are also responsible for taking out the recycling and coordinating with NAVFAC (Naval Facilities Engineering Command) when we can recycle."

Sailors are attempting to reduce energy costs by maintaining air conditioning boundaries throughout the ship, as well as by turning off lights in unmanned spaces.

"We make sure that all air conditioning boundaries are secured," said Salvaggio. "We also secure lights in offices and other spaces that we don't use very often. We watch our electricity usages, little things like that go a long way-especially the lighting."

Another energy saving technique put into place by the "Green Team" that the duty section each night is responsible for turning unnecessary lights off throughout the ship.

The team also focused on water conservation.

"One way that we cut back on things is that since we can make our own fresh water at sea, prior to underway, we allow our potable water tanks to go down to approximately 60 percent capacity reducing the amount we take from the pier," said Salvaggio.

Makin Island Sailors have participated in recycling competitions to encourage participation in "Green Team" initiatives. In June and July 2011, the ship was able to recycle 2,211 pounds of recyclable material.

In addition to the competitions, the "Green Team" has implemented an ongoing recycling program by strategically placing blue recycling containers in work spaces so Sailors can easily separate recyclable cans from the rest of the waste, said Salvaggio.

For the Sailors involved in the program, it is less of a collateral duty and more of statement of their dedication to the environment.

"It was something that I'm really interested in, trying to do my part to conserve energy, waste and just do my part to help out the planet," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Cipriano Ramirez, the "Green Team" coordinator.

While recycling efforts in port have proved to be instrumental in the campaign, it is the hope of the "Green Team" to continue the recycling efforts while in foreign ports on the ship's upcoming maiden deployment.

"Another thing I'm excited about implementing on deployment is recycling programs in other countries," said Salvaggio. "Some countries are not capable of recycling things like plastic and aluminum, and other countries are able to do that, so I am currently researching which ports can recycle the cans and things that we have when we pull in."

Employing and following through with procedures to help Makin Island and the Navy reduce its carbon footprint can be extra work for Sailors, however, many crew members feel like the extra time is worth it.

"The ship is definitely green; the captain has a vision of making everything work more efficiently," said Engineman Fireman Emmett Brown, temporarily assigned to the ships trash room. "He just wants everything to be better for us. He wants our ship to make a statement to everybody - that the Makin Island is a good ship. I know we bust our butts working with the plastics and the metals, but it's for a good cause."

"I don't mind staying at work for a few extra hours to make sure we recycle right," added Brown.

With the future of the environment in mind, Makin Island's "Green Team" is also looking into new ways for the ship to be more efficient with all of its waste. Some of the ideas range from a pier-side compost pile to refining the ships cooking oil into bio diesels.

"We're going to have a food waste bin on the pier, at the end of September (2011)," said Salvaggio. "The waste that we put into that bin will be turned into mulch so that it's not taking up space in our landfills."

"What we're planning on doing is taking our vegetable oil from the galley, and we're going to send it off to NAVFAC," added Salvaggio. "They're going to recycle it and turn it into bio diesel. Then, other companies will be able to use that particular oil."

Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is the Navy's newest Wasp-class amphibious assault ship capable of utilizing surface and air assets to move Marine forces ashore.

Makin Island is the only U.S. Navy ship with a hybrid electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects to see fuel savings of more than $250 million during the ships's lifecycle, 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.

Makin Island is named in honor of the World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, 2nd Raider Battalion on Japanese occupied Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island."

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