Environmentally Sound Ship of the 21st Century (ESS−21)
Carl M. Adema, Anthony T. Rodriguez, and Christopher H. Crane
Achieving The Environmentally Sound Ship of the 21st Century Through RDT&E
Navy ships generate substantial amounts of wastes while underway and in port. The shipboard management of these wastes must take into account environmental laws and regulations around the world, ship design constraints mission and deployment scenarios, crew health and safety, and a wide range of costs (treatment systems manning, logistics support, shoreside disposal, etc.). Because shipboard environmental requirements have wide-ranging impacts on the Fleet and its supporting infrastructure, the Navy has incorporated environmental performance into its basic military mission to ensure that worldwide operations are not impeded by environmental requirements, that environmental compliance is achieved at minimum total ownership cost (TOC), and that shipboard environmental systems and procedures do not compromise safety, health, or quality-of-life. Pursuant to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations' vision for the environmentally sound ship of the 21st century (ESS-21), the Naval Sea Systems Command's Ship Research and Development Group plans and directs the Shipboard Waste Management RDT&E Program. This program has as its goal the development of shipboard equipment, systems and procedures to manage ship wastes in compliance with existing and anticipated environmental restrictions worldwide without jeopardizing ship mission, survivability, or habitability and to minimize the cost of Fleet environmental compliance. Current RDT&E efforts focus on ozone depleting substances, solid wastes, liquid wastes, hazardous materials and pollution prevention, paints and coatings, oil spill response, and protected marine animals. Shipboard solutions encompass equipment for backfit into existing ships where practicable and ship-wide systems and practices for integration into new ship designs.
There was a time when the Navy's national importance and global military mission effectively shielded its ships and submarines from the scrutiny of environmental legislators and regulatory authorities. Although the Navy has always been careful in port and near shore, trash and liquids typically went over the side whenever it was more convenient or safer to do so than to hold the wastes on board. This was due, at least in part, to the fact that warships were not designed with waste processing and storage space in mind - valuable shipboard real estate was devoted to weapons, combat, propulsion, and various machinery systems, to living accommodations for the crew, and to design principles related to keeping ships afloat and stable at sea. As lawmakers responded to the increasing national and worldwide environmental sensitivity of the last 30 years, they have shown a greater willingness to impose upon the Navy many of the types of environmental requirements intended for land-based industry and commercial ships. This increased scrutiny of the Navy's actual and perceived effects on the marine environment has coincided with the greater environmental awareness of a new generation of sailors, who now embrace, and sometimes demand, a more environmentally attuned Navy. Concern about highly-visible solid and liquid waste discharges from Navy ships has expanded to encompass other environmental issues, ranging from less-obvious environmental releases, such as air emissions and hull coating leachate, to the protection of whales and other marine animals that enjoys broad public support.
The Navy's interest in shipboard environmental protection is driven by more than laws and regulations. As the Navy analyzed the life-cycle implications of shipboard environmental compliance and looked ahead to emerging environmental requirements, it became apparent that there are many significant direct and indirect costs associated with managing shipboard wastes and complying with environmental laws and regulations.