Combat Feeding supports Sea Air Space exhibit
June 4, 2012
Sea Air Space brought together U.S. defense industrial base, private-sector U.S. companies and key military decision makers for an innovative, educational, professional and maritime-based annual conference at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., April 16-18.
Sea Air Space is the largest event attended by Navy personnel each year, and gives senior leaders the opportunity to explore current initiatives being conducted to improve the environment for Sailors. The Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center participated by displaying various items currently being researched for the Navy by the Combat Feeding Directorate.
Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations, visited the CFD display and showed significant interest in multiple areas of research. The CFD research to support the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) and its work on the Navy Standard Core Menu (NSCM) was the first topic of discussion.
The NSCM was designed to standardize food service across the Navy fleet, while providing sailors with a number of nutritious food options. CFD Food Technologist Deb Sisson and Chef Deborah Haley of the Combat Ration team explained the "Bake More with Less" concept, a program that provides culinary specialists the opportunity to utilize and enhance their creative skills, while reducing logistical burden at the same time.
"Bake More with Less" is a prime example of work the NSRDEC does to support requests from senior leaders, as it ties in directly with the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative. Physical fitness and continuum of service are two key areas of the initiative, and providing Sailors with a variety of healthy foods, while giving culinary specialists the chance to grow in their careers, improves morale and healthy lifestyles aboard ships.
Dr. Jo Ann Ratto, chemical engineer for CFD Advanced Materials Engineering Team, briefed Greenert on the work Natick is doing to assist in the Plastics Removal in the Marine Environment and Waste Reduction Afloat Protects the Seas programs. These programs showcase how the Natick partnership with NAVSUP has contributed to successful testing of materials that can potentially reduce waste generated at sea, with a special focus on plastic, by increasing the biodegradability.
By using advanced technical and testing facilities within the CFD, the Navy can remain on the forefront of environmental capability and stewardship of the seas. Reducing the burden on our environment caused by our military is a high priority, so briefing a member of the Joints Chief of Staff on CFD efforts to reduce waste demonstrated Natick's commitment to high-level priorities.
Another key technology display at Sea Air Space was Ethylene Control for Extended Preservation of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. This project began under an Army Small Business Innovation Research effort and has transitioned for use aboard Navy ships, and received interest from the commercial sector, as well.
The exhibit demonstrated the effectiveness of ethylene removal in extending shelf life in two separate refrigerators -- a control versus one fitted with the ethylene control device. The shelf life extension was clearly demonstrated with the control showing significant wilting and degradation.
This system, which will be installed on the USS Nimitz for a six-month sea trial, was of great interest to all attendees. This low-cost, low-power technology will result in significant cost savings to the Navy by preventing the rapid spoiling of fruits and vegetables. Not only can it be used aboard Navy ships, but it can also be used in Army refrigerated containers, allowing trucks to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to Soldiers in austere, remote locations.
Also on display was the Process Control for Remote Monitoring of Field Equipment system, which monitors different significant points of Navy equipment, such as refrigerator temperature, whether refrigerator doors are opened or closed, and compressor run time. It has the potential to identify possible critical failures before they happen, which results in cost savings in maintenance and replacement items.
Throughout the conference, thousands of people, both military and civilian, had the opportunity to learn about the research that is conducted at Natick to improve the lives of our war fighters. Attendees were impressed by the ingenuity and dedication CFD personnel have to increasing the capabilities of our military, while decreasing the cost to the taxpayer.
Greenert said "the work Combat Feeding is doing is right up my alley," and confirmed that NSRDEC is focusing on the right areas and should continue to push forward researching high-risk, high-payoff technology.