Base Supports C-5 Galaxy Transports
The mission capabilities of US Naval
Station Rota in Spain took a quantum leap forward August 14, when
10 state-of-the-art underground refueling hydrants opened for
The project, which will feature a total of 16 fuel hydrant pits
when fully completed, represents an eight-fold increase in
Rota’s aircraft refueling capability.
"Theater wide, this gives Air Mobility Command much more
flexibility where they send their aircraft," said station commander
Capt. Earl K. Hampton Jr. "During OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom], we
had 30 aircraft passing through Rota daily, but we were limited in
how quickly we could turn them around. With the system at capacity,
we'll have much greater throughput to support OIF, or any future
In addition to increasing en-route refueling capabilities, the
new hydrant system saves time, allowing for a much faster
turnaround of transiting aircraft.
"Before, we used a fleet of trucks to refuel most aircraft,"
said Lt. Christin Crowley, Rota's fuels officer. "Between filling
the trucks, driving out to the aircraft and re-connecting, it would
take four people three hours and about eight trips to refuel one
C-5. With the fuel hydrant system, four people can refuel four C-5s
in about an hour and a half."
As part of the $42 million project, Rota also received an
expanded 16-acre parking apron capable of parking 14 C-5 aircraft,
and a "hot cargo" pad capable of parking and refueling two C5
aircraft when loaded with hazardous cargo, such as ammunition.
Underground fuel storage capability also tripled, with the addition
of two 1.3 million gallon tanks, and eight new miles of pipeline
and enhanced pumps.
The new hydrants are capable of
refueling any military or civilian aircraft, though Crowley said
it's unlikely it would be used for smaller aircraft, such as the
C-12 and some smaller jets.
"Because of the system's high flow rate, it's unlikely we'd ever
use it for smaller aircraft," Crowley said. "We'll keep the trucks
online, but their use will be primarily for smaller aircraft and as
a back-up for the system."
Rota is one of Air Mobility Command's primary C-5 en-route
refueling sites, with more than 1,500 C-5 landings last year.
With the fuel hydrants opening, "We anticipate air traffic will
increase… whether a little or a lot, that remains to be
seen," said Hampton. "Other bases in Europe, such as Ramstein [in
Germany] also have huge capabilities, but weather is our advantage.
Rota has excellent weather for flying, and we're VFR [Visual Flight
Rules] about 95 percent of the time."
Construction on the project began in May 2004, with Air Mobility
Command and the Defense Logistics Agency sharing the cost of the
(Aero-News salutes Lt. Mike Morley, Naval Station Rota