For Military Operations, Liquid Fuels Remain a Solid Choice over Natural Gas
By Bret Strogen and Patrick Lobner
Military energy strategists often recount the British Royal Navy’s decision in the early twentieth century to convert ships from coal to oil fuel. This transition improved their capability by reducing fuel handling personnel, increasing ship speed, and doubling travel range, though it required expensive testing and retrofitting of ships with new engines, and introduced risks by relying on a less familiar fuel that would need to be sourced internationally (whereas British coal was plentiful).(1) In hindsight a smart and inevitable decision, at the time many experts argued against the shift. Today, similar to the Royal Navy’s decision point a hundred years ago, any shift away from liquid fuels must undergo intense scrutiny to ensure such a transition increases the U.S. military’s capability.