Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 4 2009 Contents 16
fter the oil-spill off the coast
of Queensland in march,
many were understandably
concerned when Defence
had plans of unloading
fuel across the golden
sands of cowley Beach, north
Queensland, in may.
Knowing this, project manager for the Army’s
towed flexible fuel barge system, Major (MAJ)
Stephen Wagener, made sure key environmental
stakeholders were on site during a recent test and
evaluation of the system. And with Defence and
Great Barrier Reef environmental managers out in
force, it was never going to be a walkover.
Phil Koloi is one of those responsible for
safeguarding the environment of the Great Barrier
Reef Marine Park.
“The reef is a unique and environmentally-
sensitive area. We must work closely with Defence
to ensure their activities are well managed and
that any impacts on the marine environment are
minimised,” Phil said.
The towed flexible fuel barge system was
a rapid acquisition from a British supplier during
lessons learned from the East Timor intervention in
1999. Its biggest component is a 30-metre floating
sausage-shaped bladder, which is self-sealing
against small arms fire.
The bladder is loaded offshore from a Navy
tanker and then towed to a moored raft near the
beach. From there, its 100,000 litres of fuel – 24
hours supply for a mechanised Brigade – can be
pumped up to 20kms inland.
Colonel (COL) Andy Adams from the
Directorate of Combat Services Support
Development said the system is not really
necessary until you really need it.
“Then it is vital,” COL Adams said. “Apart
from military operations it is more likely to be used
during humanitarian and disaster relief, because
shore infrastructure might be completely destroyed
by earthquake or tsunami.”
The towed barge system has possible
environmental issues at several levels according
to Defence’s Assistant Director of Environmental
Impact Management Tim McKay.
“Firstly we are talking about transporting
100,000 litres of fuel in plastic bags –admittedly,
very high-tech plastic bags,” Tim said. “We need
to consider the pollution risks and how to manage
them. Secondly, if things go wrong, we need to
consider remediation – how to treat it.”
For Tim and fellow environmental managers
these latest trials are clearly a feather in the cap
for the maturing DMO process.
“Early engagement means that environmental
issues are factored in from the early stages, which
means far fewer headaches later,” Tim said.
“Getting us all here has been a real
achievement for [project manager] MAJ Steve
Department of the Environment senior
manager Chris Murphy agreed.
“We are keen to know the risk manageability
of any consequences. It’s good to be involved very
early on,” Chris said.
Rockhampton-based Defence regional
environment manager, Tennille Danvers said it was
a great opportunity to observe military capability
and understand the requirements for environmental
“We have never yet transferred fuel across
the beach at Shoalwater Bay,” Tennille said. “We
now have a much better understanding of the
implications. It’s been good to be involved in the
test evaluation process – during, rather than after.”
MAJ Wagener said the job of the test and
evaluation process is to find faults which can then
be fixed, including environmental ones.
“Our watchdogs liked the system because it
was clear to them there were a lot of fail-safes, so
now DMO can go to the next stage of evaluation,”
MAJ Wagener said.
Army HQ’s Environmental and Training Area
Manager Mr Kael da Costa said: “Keeping the
capability is the Army’s ultimate goal, but this
process has clearly identified the advantages of
involving all the stakeholders early on”.
DeFenCe MAteRIeL oRgAnIsAtIon
during project to fuel the force
By Stephen Ridgway
defence magazine ›
The 100,000 litre fuel dracone is laid out whilst a nose
cone pump is changed out prior to deploying the fuel
bladder and fuel delivery system at cowley Beach.
Photo: LS Paul McCallum
Planned system Improvements
Bigger raft – easier to work on
Improved mooring and anchoring
Better pumps for faster discharge of fuel
Can now pump from 400m offshore (doesn’t
need a perfect beach)
Winch system will reduce hand-dragging
Better coupling system for fuel hoses
Better hydraulics, improved ease of operation
Improved cleaning and clearance of pipes
New fail-safe on discharge valves
under the green microscope
Environment managers at the Cowley Beach test
and evaluation were from:
Department of the Environment
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Maritime Safety Queensland
Defence Environmental Impact
Army HQ Manager, Environment
and Training Areas
Army HQ Environment Officer
DSG regional representatives
enironmental managers from various agencies
at cowley Beach for trials of the towed
flexible fuel barge system.
Links Archive Issue 3 2009 White Paper 2009 Navigation Previous Page Next Page