By Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden, 15th Wing Public Affairs
The air component is a significant part of RIMPAC 2014, the world’s largest maritime exercise; but there’s a saying in the petroleum, oils and lubricants community: “Pilots are pedestrians without fuel.”
“Aircraft can’t fly without fuel—no fuel, no flights,” said Alphonso Parks, fuels division chief at Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Parks said the amount of aircraft deployed here and participating in RIMPAC increased the demand for fuel, and they issued an average of 1.5 million gallons per week in support of the exercise.
An average of 611 aircraft are refueled at JBPHH per month, but Parks said that amount was on track to more than triple by the end of RIMPAC.
“RIMPAC doesn’t change what we do or how we do it, but it does increase the workload,” he said.
In addition to providing JP8 fuel to aircraft, the fuels division also supported the ground and sea missions by supplying diesel fuel for the two tent city locations on JBPHH and Ford Island, and, for the first time in RIMPAC history, refueled small Navy patrol boats.
“We’re like a gas station in the middle of the ocean,” said Parks.
The fuels division prepared for more than six months to ensure there was proper planning for the division to successfully meet the demands of the exercise.
“Every time there is an exercise, we learn,” said Parks. “We know what to expect during RIMPAC now and how to adjust to make sure the mission gets accomplished.”
SrAirman Trevor Kuhns, who is deployed here in support of RIMPAC from the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, said he also learned from the joint and multinational aspect of RIMPAC.
“This is my first time supporting RIMPAC, and I’ve been surprised at how similar our refueling processes are to our joint and international counterparts,” he said.
With this year’s RIMPAC hosting 22 nations, 49 surface ships, six submarines and more than 200 aircraft, Kuhns said he is proud to be an integral part of such a big mission.
“I’m happy to do my small part to put planes in the air,” he said. “Planes don’t fly on hopes and dreams. They fly on jet fuel, and that’s what we provide.”