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SHIPBOARD POLLUTION CONTROL: U.S. Navy Compliance With MARPOL Annex V
environmental systems must be compatible with current ship space, weight, power, and other variables, which may limit the types of waste treatment facilities that can be used.
The operational environment of warships is quite different from that of commercial ships. Typical mission duration is 30 to 60 days for surface ships and several months for submarines. Passenger and cargo ships are rarely out of port for more than a few days at a time. Consequently, storage of wastes on Navy ships is much more of a problem than it is for commercial vessels. Storage of significant amounts of flammable waste material (paper and plastic) is a problem in any case but a particular problem in combat operations. Navy surface ships are resupplied at sea frequently (perhaps twice a week). There is a regular stream of foodstuffs, fuel, and other materials coming aboard with their accompanying packaging materials. Thus, the waste material continues to build up while the ships are at sea. The kinds of waste materials depend to some extent on class of ship. For example, amphibious support ships have extensive medical facilities to handle injured troops and therefore generate quantities of medical waste. Repair ships tend to generate wastes similar to those from industrial plants. In general, however, Annex V wastes will be similar from ship to ship and the quantities will scale with the ship's complement.
Submarines are quite different from surface ships. Typically, submarines deploy with all required supplies and do not have at-sea replenishment, often returning to the same port at the end of their tour. Because of their serious space limitations, submarine crews will generally eliminate all unnecessary packaging material as the ship is loaded. Other major differences between surface ships and submarines come from the very different environment in which they operate. Surface ships have access to the atmosphere, providing unlimited amounts of air to support incineration of wastes and providing a sink for the discharge of combustion gases. In submarines, air is limited and incineration of waste impractical. Space aboard submarines is especially tight, and acoustic silence is a fact of life. For these reasons, submarine management has carefully controlled the amount and kind of material brought on board.
In addition to the technological methods that can be used to enable compliance with Annex V, there are a number of significant issues that are essentially management matters. Although the committee was brought together for technical input, several members have management experience in environmental areas, both civilian and Navy. Therefore, in this section the committee makes observations that are not technological in character but are important in the successful management of the technologies chosen to achieve compliance.
A successful program for environmental compliance will be difficult to achieve unless clear-cut commitment and objectives are articulated from the top of the Navy command, supported by all levels of officers and implemented by orientation and training of officers and crew. The importance of the environmental mission must be reflected in visible aspects of the naval organization. In a sense, environmental responsibility has become the price of access to waters in which the Navy must provide a forward presence under peacetime conditions.
In view of the ship-specific nature of environmental compliance, captains should receive environmental orientation just before they assume command of a ship. The orientation should cover all aspects of the ship's environmental systems and include other officers, specifically the ship's engineering and supply officers. Noncommissioned officers should also be involved. The command staff should be made aware of Annex V regulations and of details and limitations of the ship's waste management system. This is akin to what chemical industry plant managers have to master before being given responsibility for a chemical plant's emissions. A formal orientation program allows the captain and the principal officers to issue appropriate directives to the crew and makes a statement about the captain's support for the program. At the same time, training and tracking programs should be initiated.