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POL opens new fuels facility

Col. Matthew Jones, 436th Airlift Wing commander, cuts a ribbon, marking the official opening of the brand-new hazardous cargo fuels facility June 4, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The facility cuts response times to the hot cargo pad by 33 percent and refueling times by 50 percent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stephani Barge)

Col. Matthew Jones, 436th Airlift Wing commander, cuts a ribbon, marking the official opening of the brand-new hazardous cargo fuels facility June 4, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The facility cuts response times to the hot cargo pad by 33 percent and refueling times by 50 percent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stephani Barge)

Airman Cameron Pellerin, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operator, monitors an R-12 hydrant servicing vehicle during the testing of a brand-new Type III hydrant system May 29, 2020, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The final test of the new system was the fueling and defueling of a C-17 Globemaster III. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Airman Cameron Pellerin, 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operator, monitors an R-12 hydrant servicing vehicle during the testing of a brand-new Type III hydrant system May 29, 2020, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The final test of the new system was the fueling and defueling of a C-17 Globemaster III. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Senior Airman William Mann, 736th Aircraft 
Maintenance Squadron C-17 Globemaster III crew chief, attaches a hose from an R-12 hydrant servicing vehicle to a C-17 Globemaster III during the testing of a brand-new Type III hydrant system May 29, 2020, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The newly constructed fuels facility and pits will streamline the refueling process for aircraft at the hot cargo pad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Senior Airman William Mann, 736th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-17 Globemaster III crew chief, attaches a hose from an R-12 hydrant servicing vehicle to a C-17 Globemaster III during the testing of a brand-new Type III hydrant system May 29, 2020, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The newly constructed fuels facility and pits will streamline the refueling process for aircraft at the hot cargo pad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha and Philadelphia Districts; Bay Associates, Virginia Beach, Virginia; Structural Associates Inc.,  Syracuse, New York and 436th Civil Engineer Squadron monitor fuel flow and pressures during operational testing of the new fuel hydrant system located at the aircraft hot cargo area May 28, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. During fuel hydrant system testing, the R-12 pumped Jet-A fuel from the fuel pit to an R-11 fuel truck, which was used to simulate a receiver aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha and Philadelphia Districts; Bay Associates, Virginia Beach, Virginia; Structural Associates Inc., Syracuse, New York and 436th Civil Engineer Squadron monitor fuel flow and pressures during operational testing of the new fuel hydrant system located at the aircraft hot cargo area May 28, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. During fuel hydrant system testing, the R-12 pumped Jet-A fuel from the fuel pit to an R-11 fuel truck, which was used to simulate a receiver aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Hoses from an R-12 hydrant service vehicle are 
shown connected to one of three new fuel 
hydrant pits located at the aircraft hot cargo area May 28, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Maximum-performance tests were conducted on the fuel pump house as Jet-A fuel was pumped through the new hydrant system to each of the fuel hydrant pits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Hoses from an R-12 hydrant service vehicle are shown connected to one of three new fuel hydrant pits located at the aircraft hot cargo area May 28, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Maximum-performance tests were conducted on the fuel pump house as Jet-A fuel was pumped through the new hydrant system to each of the fuel hydrant pits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Hoses from an R-12 hydrant service vehicle are shown connected to one of three new fuel hydrant pits located at the aircraft hot cargo area May 28, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. During fuel hydrant system performance testing, the R-12 pumped fuel to an R-11 fuel truck that was used to simulate a receiver aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Hoses from an R-12 hydrant service vehicle are shown connected to one of three new fuel hydrant pits located at the aircraft hot cargo area May 28, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. During fuel hydrant system performance testing, the R-12 pumped fuel to an R-11 fuel truck that was used to simulate a receiver aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

The brand-new hazardous cargo fuels facility, May 29, 2020 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The new facility completed in May of 2020 uses a Type III hydrant system, which pumps fuel from two aboveground storage tanks through a system of underground pipes to three access points on the hot cargo pad commonly called “pits.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

The brand-new hazardous cargo fuels facility, May 29, 2020 at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. The new facility completed in May of 2020 uses a Type III hydrant system, which pumps fuel from two aboveground storage tanks through a system of underground pipes to three access points on the hot cargo pad commonly called “pits.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

Hoses from an R-12 hydrant service vehicle are shown connected to one of three new fuel hydrant pits located at the aircraft hot cargo area May 28, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Maximum-performance tests were conducted on the fuel pump house as Jet-A fuel was pumped through the new hydrant system to each of the fuel hydrant pits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

Hoses from an R-12 hydrant service vehicle are shown connected to one of three new fuel hydrant pits located at the aircraft hot cargo area May 28, 2020, on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Maximum-performance tests were conducted on the fuel pump house as Jet-A fuel was pumped through the new hydrant system to each of the fuel hydrant pits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

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.