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The Navy's new Riverine Command Boat (RCB-X)  (Source: NAVY.mil)
Navy hopes to cut its fossil fuel consumption in half by 2020

It seems these days that many people/organizations are trying to go green. We have companies like Dell installing solar panels in parking lotsnumerous auto manufacturers are selling/developing full-electric and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles; and even homeowners look to reduce costs by using fluorescent lighting and eco-friendly building materials.

Not to be left out, the U.S. Navy is showing its "green" side with a new 49-foot Riverine Command Boat (RCB-X). The boat is powered by a 50/50 mix of NATO F-76 fuel and algae-based biofuel.

Although there is no talk about an increase (or penalty) in fuel efficiency by using the the fuel, it appears to be more of a policy decision with regards to stepping up the use of alternative fuels in the Navy's fleet.

"Going green is about combat capability and assuring Navy's mobility," said Rear Adm. Philip Cullom, director of the Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division. "It is not just about natural security; it also strengthens national security. By having reliable and abundant alternate sources of energy, we will no longer be held hostage by any one source of energy, such as petroleum.”

As with all new and experimental technology, the price to use such fuel in this prototype vehicle is astronomical. And when we say astronomical, we mean it -- the Marine Corps Times reports that the Navy bought 20,055 gallons of algae-based biodiesel at a jaw-dropping cost of $424 per gallon.

According to Wired, the Navy uses 80,000 barrels of oil per day to fuel its ships and wishes to cut that number in half within a decade through the use of biofuels and nuclear power.

"First and foremost, energy conservation extends tactical range of our forces while also preserving precious resources," Cullom added. "Our goal, as a Navy, is to be an 'early adopter' of new technologies that enhance national security in an environmentally sustainable way."



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RE: Volume and production
By Dr of crap on 10/29/2010 8:31:21 AM , Rating: 1
Fine there are R & D costs.
The problem that everyone, everyone but you I guess, is that I can go down to the local hardware store and get a hammer for under $20, yet the army pays $500. It a hammer, there are no R & D cost involved. It's not a new industry!

Now as to the cost of the biofuel. Although I agree it might be expensive, $400 a gallon seems WAY over the amount I might pay if I bought. There have been stories for a long time about biofuel, and none of them stated that the cost was prohibitive to use.

I'd guess that on the open market that you might pay under $15 gallon, and yet again the Navy/Army will pay any price. That is way we ALL do not trust the govt. They spend with no regard to what the cost is. But yet they preach belt tightening and that WE should keep a budget.

Do you see the problem here?

And political scientist - not a real career is it!

Maybe you could spend your time trying to make political ads that TELL the truth! And politician that DON'T LIE! HA!


RE: Volume and production
By Denigrate on 10/29/2010 8:46:51 AM , Rating: 5
Military never paid $500 for a hammer. This is where the Black Ops budget is/was hidden.


RE: Volume and production
By theapparition on 10/29/2010 10:12:39 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The problem that everyone, everyone but you I guess, is that I can go down to the local hardware store and get a hammer for under $20, yet the army pays $500. It a hammer, there are no R & D cost involved. It's not a new industry!

On the surface, it does seem ridiculous. But when you dig deeper, it's actually justified. You just have to alter you thinking somewhat.

Yes, anyone can get a hammer for $20 at thier local hardware store. However, what is the guarantee that the coated rubber grip handle won't outgas under certain circumstances? How about in a fire that it doesn't emit toxic fumes? Or, can it be adaquately cleaned after a NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) attack with no harmful residual? Maybe it needs a certain shape to fit an existing secure tool location in a ship or tank? Wouldn't be too good when a tank takes a shell and that $20 hammer flies across the compartment into a soldier's head, would it? Imagine explaining to the widow that the government didn't want to spend an extra $480 to save thier husbands life.

What the Military bought was not an off the shelf hammer from Lowes, that some unscrupulous subcontractor got rich off.

I could go on and on, but in the end you have to make two choices. Overdesign or accept risk. The US Military has chosen (and wisely so) to overdesign every item in it's arsenel. Everything is expected to work, each and every time, under harsh circumstances. So while it may seem outrageous, there are times when it is completely justified.

I myself sold the US Navy a $5000 sledgehammer, but that was for another reason. ;P


RE: Volume and production
By Iaiken on 10/29/2010 10:33:21 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Overdesign or accept risk.


You forgot documentation.

The lounge seating aboard a military vessel comes with a price tag of around $10,000 a piece. That includes not only the over-engineering of that piece of furniture, but the documentation of:

- All the chemicals that went into it
- How those chemicals react to other chemicals
- How those chemicals react to heat/cold/pressure
- How to safely extinguish it should it catch fire

All of this information had to be gathered through expensive laboratory study.

Then if later, they need more of these couches, there will be no economy of scale and you will see them cost 2-3x as much. This is acceptable to the military as these couches would be the exact same as the others and the old documentation would still be relevant.

To you, it's just a couch, to the military, it is a piece of equipment that represents a potential chemical hazard.


RE: Volume and production
By Dr of crap on 10/29/2010 12:28:50 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry your explaintion does not justify the cost.

It would be more BUDGETWISE to pay a annual salary for someone to seach for the closest match for the spec, than to charge $500 for 100 hammers.
You see where this is going?
"They'll pay what ever I want to charge!"

The seller charges a price and the Army /Navy / whoever pays.
Doesn't think - hey, that's a bit much - just pays it.
When it not coming out of your pocket you don't look at it to much.

Maybe if the reason for the high price were to come out as well, WE might not think them so stupid as to pay $500 for a hammer!
But then it might be top secret!


RE: Volume and production
By Chernobyl68 on 10/29/2010 1:16:12 PM , Rating: 3
there is no closest match when it comes to specialized tools like that. Either the tool does what you need it to, or it doesn't.
Now, not all tools the military buys will cost this much, most don't, but the ones that do, it has to be what they need it to be.


RE: Volume and production
By monomer on 10/29/2010 3:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, $500 sounds like alot for just a hammer, but you forget that it comes with a comprehensive 3-year service agreement, and a 24 hour telephone support line should you have any technical issues relating to your use of the hammer and any accesories that you purchased for it.


RE: Volume and production
By snakeInTheGrass on 10/29/2010 3:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
We've all heard the saying, "When all you have is a $500 dollar hammer, everything looks like a $100 nail."

Makes sense though - I hear about civilian hammer accidents and deaths all the time, so I can see the reasoning here. Like when contractors put hammers into their tool chests in their pickups, get in an accident, and *BAM*!, dozens of casualties all because they didn't have enough red tape and kickbacks to hold them in place in the vehicle.


RE: Volume and production
By Dr of crap on 10/29/2010 3:18:47 PM , Rating: 2
Other the above poster, which I think agrees with me, I'm I on the wrong web site?
It's this the one where everyone rants and ravs about the cost of PCs, and cell phones, and iPads, and such?
And you all are OK with $500 hammers???

I suspose you all LIKE the polictial ads, and have voted all your life as well, thinking that the one elected will CHANGE the world!?!

Good luck with that!


RE: Volume and production
By snakeInTheGrass on 10/29/2010 4:26:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'm definitely expecting the next election to fix it since I hear the politicos are going to vote to curb their own cushy revolving-door job, campaign-funding, and insider-influence thing they have going.

No, most people aren't outraged, they're lined up buying the story they're being sold, apparently. Now if you had posted about the $500 iPad (which actually does have development costs, more parts costs, etc.), the boards would be up in arms! ;)


RE: Volume and production
By theapparition on 10/29/2010 7:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sorry your explaintion does not justify the cost.

Sorry that you lack the comprehension to understand.

quote:
"They'll pay what ever I want to charge!"

Spoken like a mediawashed fool with no insite into the situation. $500 hammer, OMG, Government and Pentagon is so stupid.

Hate to break it to you, but they are not that dumb. Inefficient and misdirected, maybe, but that's another discussion.

Every cost proposal has a price breakdown listing the cost for each charge, including the testing and certification costs. Certification can cost 10X what the actual part costs, and that goes back to the prime listing that certification as a requirement. But one thing is certain, the GAO reviews these purchases and also concluded in most of them, the costs were justified.

But Dr or crap knows more than thousands of qualified individuals on this topic. Next up, you're going to tell brain surgeons that they don't need fancy medical tools, any Black and Decker cutoff saw can cut through a cranium. Fools!!!


RE: Volume and production
By drumhellar on 10/29/2010 5:31:30 PM , Rating: 2
Do the $500 hammers have these properties, though?
Or, did some contractor manage to bilk the government out of lots of cash by overcharging for common goods? There is a long history of that, specifically for military contractors.

quote:
Or, can it be adaquately cleaned after a NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) attack with no harmful residual?


In this situation, wouldn't it be better just to buy a few extra $100 hammers and dispense with the cost/difficulty of cleaning a hammer, and just replace it instead?


RE: Volume and production
By theapparition on 10/29/2010 7:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In this situation, wouldn't it be better just to buy a few extra $100 hammers and dispense with the cost/difficulty of cleaning a hammer, and just replace it instead?

Sure. Let's just stop battle and pick one up at the local corner store in that foreign country. I'm sure the enemy will wait.


RE: Volume and production
By Solandri on 10/29/2010 11:57:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Do the $500 hammers have these properties, though?
I didn't work on military hardware, but I did work on military software. If the hammers had to meet specs anything like what we had for our software, then yes they probably did have to have those properties. The specs and requirements given to us for our software looked like they threw in everything they could think of that they'd like, then asked their spouses what else might be useful.

You have to keep in mind that the military folks writing the specs are still government. The officer in charge of the project gets a budget each year, and has to spend it all or it gets reduced the following year. They're very, very good at making up BS specifications to pad the bottom line.

(The exception is the Marine Corps. It has something to do with them technically being a sub-branch of the Navy. They don't control the funds they get or they have to justify every cent they spend or something. They went through their required spec list and our proposals with a fine-toothed comb, trying to cut whatever costs they could and eliminating features they felt weren't worth it.)

That's not to say there isn't any bilking going on. I'm sure there is. But the fault lies with both ends. That's why it's called the Military Industrial Complex, not the Industrial Complex which happens to make military stuff.

quote:
In this situation, wouldn't it be better just to buy a few extra $100 hammers and dispense with the cost/difficulty of cleaning a hammer, and just replace it instead?

The mindset is that in an all-out war situation, you're not going to be resupplied. Whatever equipment you have is what you're going to be stuck with, and in a contamination situation you have to assume everything will be contaminated including spares. So better make sure it can withstand anything you might encounter.


RE: Volume and production
By theapparition on 10/30/2010 11:00:17 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The specs and requirements given to us for our software looked like they threw in everything they could think of that they'd like, then asked their spouses what else might be useful.

That's where a bulk of the cost lies. It becomes very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Requirements review is a huge issue, and those specifing things do tend to go overboard. If certain requirements were eliminated, costs could drop dramatically. However, in doing so, that assumes some risk, something that government is not willing at this time to do.

Government contractors do make money, but on some contracts they lose money if it's bid as a firm fixed price and they overrun.

quote:
The mindset is that in an all-out war situation, you're not going to be resupplied. Whatever equipment you have is what you're going to be stuck with, and in a contamination situation you have to assume everything will be contaminated including spares. So better make sure it can withstand anything you might encounter.

Thank you. You stated it better than I could.


RE: Volume and production
By FoxFour on 10/30/2010 1:07:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I could go on and on, but in the end you have to make two choices. Overdesign or accept risk. The US Military has chosen (and wisely so) to overdesign every item in it's arsenel. Everything is expected to work, each and every time, under harsh circumstances. So while it may seem outrageous, there are times when it is completely justified.


I suspect that all the men (and the families they left behind) who've been KIA by small arms fire in Humvees might have a somewhat different outlook on this.


RE: Volume and production
By millerm277 on 11/2/2010 12:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
Humvees were not designed for what they were being used for, unfortunately for those men. They were meant as a replacement for the jeep. Getting people and stuff around. Not serving as a fighting platform on the front lines/offering protection from threats, as they were attempting to use them for...


"Death Is Very Likely The Single Best Invention Of Life" -- Steve Jobs














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