The United States Navy's "Great Green Fleet" took off Wednesday with 450,000 gallons of biofuel to burn and the support of U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The anticipated launch of the fleet kicked off with participation in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the largest international maritime exercise in the world. Six ships were used in the exercise, which took place off the coast of Hawaii.
Part of President Obama's initiative to decrease dependence on foreign oil, using biofuels for the exercise allowed the Navy to test their "operational performance." Mabus said the ability to use fuels other than petroleum will increase flexibility and reduce vulnerability to changes in the price of oil.
To illustrate his point, Mabus said every dollar change in a barrel of oil means about $30 million in additional costs to the Navy.
Because of the price changes and security concerns, Mabus indicated that the military is committed to using biofuels now and in the future.
"I think the participation of the very top leadership of the Navy was a strong signal to the men and women in uniform, to our allies, and even to our skeptics," Mabus said, "that the whole Navy is committed to pursing alternatives to foreign oil and the whole Navy believes it is critical to our combat capabilities and to our national security."
To solidify agreement with allies, Mabus signed a Statement of Cooperation with the Royal Australian Navy to formalize future cooperation on alternative fuel deployment during the exercise. Mabus said the statement will guide the two countries on how to best partner and combine resources.