DOVER AIR FORCE, Del. --
The 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their brand-new hazardous cargo fuels facility on June 4, 2020.
As a safety precaution, all aircraft arriving to or departing from Dover AFB with hazardous cargo, such as ammunition or explosives, are marshalled to an area known as the hot cargo pad. Located in a remote area of the base, away from most buildings, this area is out of the reach of the base’s primary fueling method, a Type III hydrant system which pumps fuel from aboveground storage tanks through a system of underground pipes to 31 access points on the runway commonly called “pits.” Even the closest pit to the hot cargo pad is still close to a mile away.
A C-5M can hold up to 51,140 gallons of jet fuel, and a C-17 Globemaster III holds 28,000 gallons. So in the past, refueling and defueling aircraft on the hot cargo pad required multiple fuel trucks making multiple trips across the base to transport the fuel.
The new $23 million facility and hydrant system, which began construction in 2018, will streamline the refueling process for aircraft on the hot cargo pad by adding a state-of-the-art fuel pumping and monitoring facility and three pits on the hot cargo pad. Each of the new pits has the capability to pump 600 gallons (4,000 pounds) of fuel per minute. Localized fuel reserves for the new facility are kept in two aboveground storage tanks, which are replenished by Port Mahon, just a few miles from the base. Each tank can hold 210,000 gallons of fuel.
“Overall, we will be able to use one R-12 pump truck in place of up to five R-11 trucks per mission,” said Lt. Col Kevin Etherton, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. “Cutting our response times by 33 percent and our refueling times by 50 percent.”
Upon completion of construction, the new pump house facility and pits were tested thoroughly. Members of the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; construction contractors from Bay Associates of Virginia Beach, Virginia and Structural Associates Inc. of Syracuse, New York, were present to oversee the final testing of the system and finalize the construction project that was started in 2017 and completed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After successful tests on May 28, 2020, using empty R11 fuel trucks to simulate aircraft, it was time to do it for real. The following day, a C-17 Globemaster III was marshalled onto the hot cargo pad for refueling. To fully test the system, the aircraft was refueled, then defueled and refueled again.
“During the test, we pumped about 30,000 pounds of fuel, which translates to about 4500 gallons,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Hambrock, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Environmental Safety Office noncommissioned officer in charge.
With the testing and ribbon cutting ceremony of the new facility now complete, the Airmen of the 436th LRS are ready, eager and proud to utilize every facet of this new high-speed capability.
“Bottom line, this new capability enhances Dover Air Force Base’s ability to Air Mobility Command and provide rapid, global mobility and sustainment for America’s armed forces,” said Etherton.