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U.S. Navy Museum Cold War Gallery Lesson Plan
The Great Green Fleet:  Freedom from Fossil Fuel, Operation Sea Orbit and the Nuclear Navy
Developed by Donald G. Belle, Gwynn Park High School, Brandywine MD
2012 Naval Historical Foundation STEM-H Teacher Fellowship
 
 
  Instructional Goal:

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In this unit of study students will gain a basic understanding of programs developed by the Energy, Environment and Climate Change programs of the Navy. These programs will relate to environmental topics including renewable/alternative energy, methods for estimating populations, and the interrelationship between humans and energy/biological resources.

Background:

The U.S. Navy serves as a global force, protecting our citizens at home and abroad, while keeping the seas free for all who sail upon them. The Navy is also committed to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and setting standards for environmental stewardship. The Energy, Environment and Climate Change programs of the Navy are developing and implementing initiatives that will increase the use of alternative energy, conserve the world's resources, and study the effects of climate change.

As technology transitioned ships from sail to fossil fuels in the 19th century and ship sizes increased as a result, the coal-fired "Great White Fleet's" 14 month circumnavigation of the world was a key event for the U.S. Navy. Later, the transition from coal to oil to nuclear power in the 20th century was marked by a similar cruise: Operation Sea Orbit, the circumnavigation of the world in under 2 months by the all-nuclear Task Force ONE. Without an ounce of food, fuel, or supplies replenished during the voyage, the three nuclear powered ships sailed without the need for wind or fossil fuel for propulsion. Now, faced with new 21st century challenges, the U.S. Navy has established several task forces to investigate more efficient and sustainable programs for its non-nuclear powered ships and its aircraft and vehicles.

The Navy energy task force focuses on making energy production more efficient and sustainable. In order to accomplish this mission current operational techniques and energy consumption are evaluated and improved. Alternative and renewable energies are researched, developed, and tested in the field and at home. Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, has set a goal to provide 50% the Navy's power needs using alternative fuels by 2020. In July 2012, the Navy demonstrated this commitment by launching a "green" strike group which contained ships and aircraft running on biofuels and nuclear power (aircraft carrier and submarine). Investing in energy will give the Navy a strategic advantage as it depends less on foreign energy supplies.

The Navy environmental stewardship task force focuses on minimizing the effect of Navy operations on the environment. Environmental policies are considered during the planning and execution of all operations to ensure that environmental regulations are followed at sea and on shore. The Navy also works to monitor and study the effect of the Navy's ecological footprint on marine life and water quality. One of the ongoing projects aimed at protecting natural resources is the marine mammal research program. Navy researchers improve methods of determining the locations, population size, and effect of navy generated sounds on marine mammals.

The Navy climate change task force focuses on examining how the changing Arctic and global environment will effect naval operations including changing water resources, changing weather/storm patterns, the consequence of sea level rise on naval installations and nations around the world, and humanitarian aid and disaster response. Since the United States is an Arctic nation where climate change is increasingly altering the environment there is a need to gather data and strengthen prediction models to develop strategic goals for the area.

Resources:

play videoNavy Sonar and Environmental Stewardship:  To continue its mission and protect marine mammals, the Navy has studied the potential effects of its sonar activities and developed protective measures to minimize potential impacts to marine mammals.

play videoMarine Corps Pursues Alternative Energy on the Battlefield:  The Expeditionary Energy Strategy dictates that by 2025 the Marine Corps will use 50% less fuel on the battlefield as it does today. This report from Helmand province, Afghanistan, tells how the Marines' latest technologies are powering potentials on the front lines.

U.S. Navy Energy, Environment, and Climate Change web page

The "Great White Fleet":  The "Great White Fleet" sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909 (14 months) consisted of sixteen new coal powered battleships of the Atlantic Fleet. The battleships were painted white except for gilded scrollwork on their bows.

U.S. Navy Nuclear Task Force ONE:  U.S. Navy Nuclear Task Force ONE 1964 sails around the world in 54 days, video time 14:35 to 22:45.

Click icon to download Activity Answers
Navy Nuclear Power and the Navy's World Cruises: The Great White Fleet, "Operation Sea Orbit" and the Great Green Fleet

Objective:

Compare the Navy's Great White Fleet, Nuclear Task Force ONE, and the Great Green Fleet as the U.S. Navy strives to maintain freedom of the seas while becoming free from traditional fossil fuels.

Materials:

Internet access to read/view the below and investigate your ideas:

play videoThe Great White Fleet:  A short 5 minute student produced video using source documents, chronicling the 14 month voyage of the Great White Fleet.
 

play videoSECNAV Discusses Great Green Fleet:  The Secretary of the Navy discusses The Great Green Fleet demonstration, being done during the 2012 "Rim of the Pacific" exercise.

play videoUSNS Henry J. Kaiser Prepares for RIMPAC 2012 Great Green Fleet Demonstration:  USNS Henry J. Kaiser prepares for RIMPAC Great Green Fleet demonstration; the Great Green Fleet will sail in 2016.

The 1964 history of USS Enterprise

U.S. Navy Nuclear Task Force ONE:  U.S. Navy Nuclear Task Force ONE 1964 sails around the world in 54 days, video time 14:35 to 22:45.

The Navy History and Heritage Command summary of Operation Sea Orbit

The "Great White Fleet":  The "Great White Fleet" sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909 (14 months) consisted of sixteen new coal powered battleships of the Atlantic Fleet. The battleships were painted white except for gilded scrollwork on their bows.

Instructions:

Download Activity 1 Worksheet and complete the activities identified about USS Enterprise (CVN 65).

 
 

 

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