Navy, Marine Corps units help avert San Diego power outages

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Logico | October 25, 2007

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps helped San Diego residents avoid potential power outages during the San Diego firestorm crisis, Oct. 24.

“We appreciate the Navy and Marine Corps’ response to our urgent request for electricity demand reduction,” said Michael Niggli, chief operating officer for San Diego Gas & Electric. “SDG&E is fortunate to have this unique response to help alleviate stress on our power grid in a time like this.”

Within three hours, more than 30 U.S. Navy ships shifted from pier-connected, shore powered to organic shipboard power, significantly reducing more than 100 megawatts of electrical strain on the San Diego power grid.

“The Navy is the largest single customer in San Diego,” said Dave Guebert, the director of federal account of SDG&E.

Among the ships, guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) contributed to the power reduction.

“We are glad to do what we can to reduce electrical power consumption by shifting to ship’s power,” said Lt. Rich Robbins, chief engineer assigned to Halsey. “We are glad to help preserve valuable electrical resource for the people of San Diego.”

SDG&E lost transmission lines out of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and the Southwest Powerlink were damaged as a result of the firestorm in San Diego. On top of that, Camp Pendleton transmission lines, critical in supplying electricity to the region, also went out of service, leaving 19,500 San Diego residents without power in their homes.

“SDG&E was within three minutes of a major power outage throughout the San Diego area,” said Guebert.

Guebert said if it weren’t for the Navy and Marine Corps, more than 30,000 residence and businesses would have been affected.

“On behalf of SDG&E, I would like to thank the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps for all of their efforts in load reduction during this critical firestorm and high heat period,” said Guebert.

Navy Region Southwest, headquartered in downtown San Diego, is supporting Navy personnel, civilian employees, military retirees and their families at facilities on Naval Base San Diego and Naval Base Coronado, while assisting with the Navy’s efforts to combat the fires and helping civilian evacuees at centers around the county.

Navy MH-60S helicopters, which began flying missions Oct. 22, dumped 113,400 gallons of water on the Harris Ranch Fire in southern San Diego County Oct. 23. Navy helicopters have also assisted civil authorities with infra-red mapping of the fire.

Additionally, four Navy fire trucks and 20 Navy civilian firefighters from Navy bases around the nation are arriving in San Diego to assist with the fires, while local Navy civilian firefighters have been on scene since Oct. 21.

Five firefighting C-130 fixed-wing aircraft, equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System, are combating the fires from Naval Base Ventura County.

“Navy firefighting aircraft, helicopters, trucks and crews are working closely with civil authorities to bring relief to those affected by California’s wild fires,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. “It gives me great pride knowing that many Sailors, civilians and family members are answering the call and volunteering in support of friends and neighbors in the community.”

Sixteen medical personnel from Naval Medical Center San Diego are aiding 36 civilian patients who were transferred to the Navy hospital from around the county.

Medical personnel from the San Diego-based USS Cleveland (LPD 7) are providing medical care to civilian evacuees at San Diego High School, and Sailors from the San Diego-based ships USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Pre-commissioning Unit Makin Island (LHD 8), USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Cape St. George (CG 71) have been helping civilian evacuees at evacuation centers around the county.

To assist displaced military families and single military members, the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society is offering financial assistance and emergency interest-free loans. Naval Base Coronado’s Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society office is located on Naval Air Station North Island, Building 318. The phone numbers are (619) 435-8786 and (619) 545-7202.