CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan. -- As the sun broke through the clouds over Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Marines rushed to quickly assemble a fuel site, their boots thundering across the ground.
Marines with Bulk Fuel Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, practiced fuel support operations training Oct. 2, 2018 at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. The purpose of the training was to further develop proficiency in fueling support operations for upcoming exercises and deployments for 3rd MLG.
Warrant Officer John Paul A. Runge, the platoon commander of 2nd Platoon, Bulk Fuel Co., 9th ESB, said that the company is the main provider for fuel distribution throughout 3rd MLG.
“Our mission as a company is to provide petroleum products to the MLG and its supporting units,” said Runge. “We need to be able to set up anywhere and establish these sites anywhere the Marine Corps sends us.”
During the exercise, Marines used water to simulate petroleum products, which allowed them to safely pump inert liquids during training. The bulk fuel specialists were timed on their ability to quickly set up and tear down modular systems, as well as their ability to find faster ways to assemble fuel sites.
“We like to train with water because it gives the Marines a simulated idea of getting the lines filled with an actual product, as opposed to laying down hoses that are completely empty and rolling them back up,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley W. Hoffman, the platoon sergeant for 2nd Plt., Bulk Fuel Co.
The training began with Marines unrolling collapsible fuel bladders and connecting multiple lengths of hoses in order to direct water from storage bladders to distribution valves. The modular system, using multiple hoses connected to one another, stretched from the grassy field in front of the Bulk Fuel Co. warehouse to the concrete lot in the back, 200 yards away, where a bladder full of water was stationed.
“We are able to push product between our bags here, or push it several miles down the road to another tank system,” stated Hoffman.
The Marines also patrolled lines from fuel sites to distribution points to ensure everything flowed properly with no breaks or stoppages.
“Our hoses can reach up to 400 feet [when necessary],” said Hoffman. “We walk the line to make sure it’s not leaking. If we are losing product, then we are not going to be able to complete our mission.”
The training exercise enabled the bulk fuel specialists to practice quickly building and operating fuel distribution points in various environments, which can be controlled training environments, combat zones or in challenging terrain where natural disasters have occurred. In real-world scenarios, this allows the company to fuel various vehicles and heavy equipment in support of combat operations as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in other countries.
“We are making sure our Marines are prepared for any type of mission that will come down from the MLG,” stated Hoffman. “The Marines can set up in any place in austere environments to store, receive, transfer and dispense fuel to our supporting units.”