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U.S Navy Joins Biofuels with Battleship: The [Green] Movie

US Navy will sail Green Strike Group in RIMPAC 2012

The new green economy sure is heading into some strange territory these days. Just consider Battleship: The Movie, a summer blockbuster due for release in May. The slam-bang Hollywood actioner features the U.S. Navy battling some rather aggressive seagoing critters and, if it’s a hit, audiences around the world won’t just be rooting for the Navy — they’ll be cheering for the Navy and biofuels all summer long. Say, what?

The U.S. Navy and Biofuels

The makers of Battleship: The Movie might not have envisioned the biofuel scenario when the movie went into production a few years ago, but the U.S. Navy has been thoroughly engaged in a rapid transition to alternative energy, including solar power at Navy bases as well as biofuels at sea. As a sea-based service, the Navy has been straightforward about expressing the effects of global warming on its operations, including humanitarian missions. That goes right to the top: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has been a prominent, cut-to-the-chase spokesperson for the science of climate change.

Shouting out the Green Biofuel Message

The Navy is also not shy about broadcasting the impact of a precarious and dwindling supply of fossil fuels on national security. Its one-pager on energy security goals states:

“The United States Navy and Marine Corps rely far too much on petroleum, a dependency that degrades the strategic position of our country and the tactical performance of our forces. The global supply of oil is finite, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and exploit, and over time cost continues to rise.”

The Navy’s Green Strike Group

The one-pager outlines five goals, one of which is to float an entire “Green Fleet” powered by alternative energy by 2016. As an interim step, this year the Navy has been testing biofuels on enough fighter jets, helicopters and ships to send a Green Strike Group out to sea. Though the group will be anchored by a nuclear-powered carrier, every member of the fleet will be powered with the help of non-petroleum fuels.

The Green Strike Group and RIMPAC

The Green Strike Group will debut at this summer’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) international maritime exercise, the largest of its kind in the world. RIMPAC has taken place every other summer since the 1970’s and this year it is scheduled for late June—coincidently, just a few weeks after Battleship: The Movie opens on May 28 (also coincidentally, World Environment Day takes place on June 5, barely a week after the movie’s opening).

Battleship: The Movie, Biofuels and RIMPAC

This is where it starts to get really interesting. The setting for Battleship: The Movie is RIMPAC itself—you can catch it right at the beginning of the Battleship trailer. The movie even features footage from film that was shot during RIMPAC 2010. That’s right, the real-life international showcase for the Navy’s alternative energy program is the setting for a movie that aims to reach millions of viewers all over the world.

Mainstreaming the New Green Economy

The display of green firepower in Battleship: The Movie is a bit off-message from the ideal of a sustainable future, and for that matter, most movie-goers won’t be aware that they’re seeing a time-shifted version of the Navy’s Green Strike Group. However, the underlying fact is clear: the new green economy…

is rapidly becoming part of the mainstream landscape and we are all a part of it, whether it’s the work we do, the goods we buy, or a brief escape from reality in a darkened movie theater.

Image: U.S. Navy, USS Thatch. License Attribution Some rights reserved by Official U.S. Navy Imagery.

Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


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