The Indian Navy announced a slew of green initiatives in recent months under the guidance of Admiral R.K. Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff. It appears to be on course to put itself on a mission mode for environmental sustainability.
The Indian Navy is in the process of synergizing its ‘blue water capability with a green footprint’. These have primarily been achieved by the adoption of a comprehensive ‘Indian Navy Environment Conservation Roadmap’ which is being implemented in all its facilities.
The key initiatives can be divided into two broad areas:
A 3-5 percent reduction in power consumption is being targeted annually. Promulgation of guidelines for use of energy efficient machinery onboard sea-going platforms and undertaking energy efficient operations for ships have been framed.
Steps have been taken to ensure compliance of marine pollution (MARPOL – International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) guidelines for waste disposal and discharge of effluents onboard ships. Use of environment friendly Sewage Treatment Plants (STP), commissioning of Effluent Treatment Plants, increasing the use of renewable energy in establishments and setting up of biogas plants in shore establishments have been initiated. The 4Rs (Reduce, Replace, Reuse and Recycle) have also been aggressively pursued to minimize the environmental impact of naval activities both at sea and ashore.
Learning from the US Navy
The US Navy is considered a leader in this area. The US Department of Navy (DoN) adopted five well defined energy goals in 2009 to increase war fighting capability, both strategically and tactically. From a strategic perspective, the objective was to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, while from the tactical perspective the objective was to use available energy sources (at site) by increasing energy efficiency. This would reduce the vulnerability associated with long fuel supply transport lines and would lead to an increase in the operational capability. The five energy goals were, energy efficient acquisition, sailing the “Great Green Fleet”, reducing non-tactical petroleum use, increasing alternative energy ashore, and increasing alternative energy use.
Spurred by the successes achieved by the DoN, the US army’s Offi ce of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, released ‘Strategy 2025’ (at the end of 2014), setting forth the army’s vision for Installations, Energy and Environment. This was followed by the recently-released ‘Energy Security and Sustainability Strategy’, by the US army.
A strong reporting mechanism is also in place and the ‘Strategic Sustainability Performance Report’, which is updated annually, ensures regular and comprehensive monitoring. The Indian Navy feels the US model is a good example of how the concept of sustainability is being integrated into operational readiness.