News>Largest AF fuel farm operates 'bare base' style
At the header Airman Justin Rose, 376th Logistics Readiness Squadron, takes a sample of fuel and tests it before allowing the fuel to enter into the filtration system July 16. The header is open 18 hours a day and receives between 40-60 trucks that offload about 8,000 gallons each. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)
The header, or the receiving point for fuel, is where Airmen tests and unloads it from about 40-60 trucks per day. More than 320,000 gallons are pumped through the intricate maze of pipes and hoses through filtration and storage systems at the Transit Center. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)
The fuel farm is set up as if the Transit Center were a 'bare base,' using more than a dozen bladders that have the capacity to hold 200,000 gallons each. The large, rubberized fabric containers rest inside dikes lined with the same material which will contain any fluid that may leak out. At home station, fuel is stored in above-ground storage tanks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Lowers, 376th Logistics Readiness Squadron, is testing fuel after it has gone through a booster pump that pushes it through filter separators to clean the Russian-grade petroleum fuel and is then diluted with three additives to make it compatible with U.S. aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)
Airman 1st Class Ashley Turnage, 376th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operator, winds up a fuel hose after fueling a Boeing 767 before it departs with soldiers returning home Aug. 3. The Transit Center moves 80 percent of the troops going in and out of Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)
Airman 1st Class Alicia Galeancu, 376th Logistics Readiness Squadron, fuels a Boeing 767. Airmen Galenancu's fuel truck was one of three that refueled the aircraft taking soldiers home Aug. 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)
Airman 1st Class Bryan Stevens, 376th Logistics Readiness Squadron, pulls the fuel hose to fuel a Boeing 767 before it departs with soldiers returning home Aug. 3. He is one of about 40 Airmen who pump more than 320,000 gallons of fuel a day at the Transit Center. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)
Airman 1st Class Bryan Stevens (left), 376th Logistics Readiness Squadron, pumps fuel Aug. 3 to a Boeing 767 Army soldiers board for Nurnberg, Germany after returning from a one-year deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The Transit Center's petroleum, oils and lubricant Airmen are responsible for the Air Force's largest fuel farm in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nathan Bevier)
by Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Buzanowski
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
8/9/2010 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- More than 320,000 gallons of fuel each day is pumped in and out of the largest fuel farm in the U.S. Air Force, running through the most intricate maze of pipes and hoses for the filtration and storage systems.
Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants specialists of the 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron run 24/7 operations with little more than 40 flight members, all here on six-month deployment rotations.
These Airmen supervise fuel delivery at the Transit Center's receiving point called the header. Here, the contractor delivers the fuel for about 18 hours each day, offloading anywhere between 40-60 trucks at about 8,000 gallons each.
"Every time we get a truck, the first thing we do is check the seals," said Airman Justin Rose, who explained the trucks' tanks are secured after they are filled to ensure the fuel isn't tampered while en route to the Transit Center.
But, even if the seals haven't been disturbed, the POL Airmen still test each of the truck's fuel compartments to prevent the possibility of contaminated fuel at the source from entering the vein of U.S. Central Command's ability to support 30 percent of Afghanistan's air refueling missions and 80 percent of its forward troop movements.
Once the quality of the fuel is verified, the fuel is calculated to correct at 60 degrees Fahrenheit - the most accurate way to measure its volume. This makes for accurate measuring for proper payment to the contractor.
After the fuel is offloaded it comes through a booster pump that pushes it through filter separators to clean the Russian-grade petroleum fuel before it's diluted with three additives to make it compatible with U.S. aircraft. "Then it moves down the line to whichever bladder we're receiving at a rate of 450 gallons a minute," said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Lowers, who explained the bladder was the final storage destination until its loaded onto a fuel truck and driven onto the flight line.
More than a dozen bladders have the capacity to hold 200,000 gallons each. The large, rubberized fabric containers rest inside dikes lined with the same material which will contain any fluid that may leak out due to pressure imbalances within the network.
Airman 1st Class Zachery Conoway talks as he takes fuel from a bladder and pumps it into his truck - an R-11. "It definitely takes more time to load the truck then it does to offload the fuel into the aircraft," said the first-time deployed Airman. "My favorite part of the job? I like driving the truck. We get to be out on the flight line with the aircraft. We're the ones who make them go," said Airman Conoway as he waits for the fuel service center to tell him which aircraft he's refueling next.
"This truck holds 6,000 gallons, but we don't service the aircraft with more than 5,600 gallons at a time," he says.
POL flight chief Senior Master Sgt. Brian Payne said this limit to prevents air from getting sucked into the pump while offloading fuel into the aircraft. "It significantly reduces the possibility of the truck's pump being damaged when not enough fuel is being drawn into the system," said Sergeant Payne. "This is just one of many considerations our Airmen need to keep in mind in order to keep the mission working."
This also means taking the best care possible of older, worn equipment compared to home stations. Staff Sgt. Dominick Griego said the trucks, especially, fit this category. "We'd rather take an extra 5-7 minutes to fill a truck carefully then to break one completely - that would hurt us."
The squadron commander says POL has risen above all of their challenges. "Our guys have been working out of a tent and a bladder farm since 2001," said Lt. Col. Will Phillips. "Stateside they are operating a hydrant system with above-ground storage tanks - a very modern operation. It's amazing they've operated as if this was a bare-base environment for this long."
POL pumps the life-blood into the Transit Center at Manas' airlift, onward movement of troops and refueling missions. Senior Airman Byron Theriot says every Airmen in the flight knows how valuable they are. "There's a saying we have in POL - pilots would be pedestrians without us."