‘GRAPES’ Fuel Atsugi Warfighters
“No fuel, no work… and that’s for just about everything here,” exclaimed Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 1st Class Ryan Moore, the leading petty officer at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi’s Fuel Farm.
Like the majority of the shore-based facilities at NAF Atsugi, the Fuel Farm’s primary purpose is to support Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5).
The facility, part of Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka, is responsible for maintaining an adequate amount of clean, clear and bright JP-5, diesel and “Mogas” (regular gasoline) to provide fuel for virtually any aircraft that flies through, or any government vehicle that stops through NAF Atsugi.
The fuel farm owns eight JP-5 refueling trucks that hold 5,000 gallons each, three “Mogas” trucks and one diesel truck, each of which can hold 1,000 gallons. The facility also maintains five JP-5 tanks, which store a combined total of 2.2 million gallons of fuel.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Matthew Wilson said the process for requesting fuels is relatively simple. The requesting squadron should submit a fuel ticket, which is basically an order form, to the fuels dispatcher. The dispatcher would then send a driver to the flight line to fill the order.
“It’s a fairly simple process,” said Wilson. “There’s a lot of paperwork that goes into it behind the scenes, but overall the process to get fuel to the aircraft is pretty straight forward.” JP-5, which is used to fuel most aircraft that NAF Atsugi services, costs an average of about $3.29 per gallon. On a typical day the Fuel Farm can shell out more than $300,000 worth of jet fuel.
Aside from delivering the fuel, personnel are also responsible for making sure that it’s clean by conducting a series of quality assurance (QA) tests. Each day the fuel is tested for water levels, sediment, flash point and fuel system icing inhibitor.
QA lab personnel also conduct an American Petroleum Institute test and record information on the fuel’s density.
When the fuel is received from the local Japanese distributor’s trucks, it is pumped through a strainer and filter to remove water and sediment, then into a ready issue tank.
From there, the fuel moves to the fill stand, then to the truck and eventually to the aircraft. During all four steps the fuel goes through a water and sediment filter, explained Moore.
“It’s all about delivering the best possible product to our customers,” he said. “We take a visual sample, then take two samples to the lab and take six tests, then transfer fuel into tanks.”
NAF Atsugi’s Fuel Farm is also responsible for a fueling facility in Iwo To (formerly known as Iwo Jima) where CVW- 5 aircraft routinely conduct field carrier landing practices.
During the air wing’s stint in Iwo To, Fuel Farm personnel operate on-island just as if they were back at NAF Atsugi, explained Moore.
They are also required to pay a visit to the island each month to perform QA tests on their fuel tanks, which hold a combined total of 2.3 million gallons.
“I love my job. Pretty much anything that comes by or goes through we can fuel it,” said Moore. “It has a lot of responsibilities attached to it, and it’s a very high visibility position. When you wear that purple jersey, or you’re driving that big yellow truck, you are seen by everyone.”