Story by Elizabeth A Stoeckmann on 10/16/2018A firsthand glimpse at where the fuel comes in, where it is stored, how it is tested and transferred through underground pipelines is an important part of understanding Defense Logistics Agency Energy's mission.
More than 24 Energy employees toured the Defense Fuel Support Point at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Sept. 26.
"This is the first time DLA Energy employees were offered an opportunity to see a DFSP at a nearby location," said Beverly Johnson, DLA Energy project manager for the visit. "The goal was to learn about fuel operations and customer support."
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Tour guide Ken Wagner, 11th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations compliance chief, welcomed the employees and guided them in a behind the scenes tour of the DFSP to see how fuels is delivered to the installation.
Wagner explained Joint Base Andrews receives fuel through the Colonial Pipeline which begins in Houston, Texas, and runs up the Eastern Seaboard to a Baltimore refinery. The fuel is then transferred onto a barge in the Chesapeake Bay and transits via the Anacostia River to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. Upon arrival, the fuel is pumped through a 26-mile pipeline to storage tanks on Andrews AFB.
"Andrews AFB is unique in having breakout tanks to receive fuel because our pipeline is so long," Wagner said.
Breakout tanks are used to relieve surges of fuel for further transportation through the pipeline. DFSP Andrews' tank-to-tank moves gallons of fuel per minute from the contractor-owned tanks to the government-owned bulk storage tanks.
"Until the point of sale, the fuel in the tanks is DLA-owned fuel. We (DFSP Andrews) are just the storage facility," Wagner explained.
On the walk to the pump house, Wagner pointed out what he called a roto-rooter. Better known as a PIG pipeline launcher, its function is to clean and inspect a pipeline. Wagner explained how the camera-equipped PIG launcher cleans and performs integrity tests of the fuel lines.
Inside the pump house control room, Wagner showed employees the electrical switches, toggles and control panels controlling the flow of fuel through a constant pressure, air operated system. The pump house delivers fuel through the underground pipe directly to the fill stand on the flight line, allowing fuel trucks to replenish and refuel aircraft without having to leave the controlled operations areas. Employees could see an actual "transfer" of fuel configuring on the control panel.
At Joint Base Andrews there are three classifications of fuel tanks.
"There are above ground tanks, such as the DFSP tanks; below ground tanks, similar to commercial gas stations; cut-and-cover tanks, which are half above ground and half below ground tanks and are used overseas; and 'dummy' tanks that are strategically located throughout the base," Wagner explained.
The next stop on the tour was the Andrews AFB fuels laboratory. Jeff Conley, Applied Technical Services, explained the lab's responsibility for ensuring the fuel DLA Energy purchases for Andrews AFB meets specifications.
"We are also responsible for all the DLA-owned equipment, such as the pump houses, filter vessels, refueling equipment that require monthly sampling and testing to ensure quality operation," Conley said.
What makes this lab unique is the Air Force One mission, he said. Air Force One refers to specific planes equipped to transport the commander-in-chief.
"We are the base-level fuels laboratory that supports Air Force One," Conley said. "The secured fuel samples are tested at the highest level (with no delay)."
Larry Slater, a DLA Energy technical and quality analyst, asked what the process is when off-specification fuel occurs.
"First, that rarely happens because the providers of the product are doing a really good job," Conley said. "You never have a failure on your first attempt, because we always resample, and if we confirm a sample failure, there is a process through the Air Force Petroleum Office at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio."
Brandon Daniels, DLA Energy Bulk Fuels contract specialist, said it was interesting to learn about the safety precautions, such as how the fuel is separated, tested and set aside in a locked tanker for exclusive use on the presidential aircraft.
After learning about the fuels lab, employees were transported to the Presidential Airlift Group operations center on Joint Base Andrews to see the fuels operation in motion.
"We support many mission to include the PAG and all the military services," said Stephen Yoder, ATS operations manager.
Culminating the tour, employees viewed a pump house facility, basically a bigger gas station, from an outside window.
DLA Energy inventory management specialists and petroleum, oil and lubricant management specialists said the visit enhanced their understanding of the end-to-end fuel supply chain management.
The next DFSP site visit is scheduled for Joint Base Langley-Eustis in November.