USA moves on setting up key multimillion dollar military fuel storage facility in Darwin

THE United States’ combat logistics support agency is moving on plans for a multimillion dollar fuel farm facility in Darwin for its fighter jets and warships.

The fuel reserve is being established in Darwin to ensure US war machines are not left stranded if fuel supply lines are disrupted.

DLA Energy is seeking information on “industry capabilities/interest/potential sources for the receipt, storage, and issue 1.2 million barrels of aviation turbine fuel, grade JP5 (fill capacity), and 700,000 barrels of commercial jet fuel, grade jet A-1 (fill capacity), in the Port of Darwin, Australia.”

It also seeks information from interested companies on their service capabilities for receiving and shipping US government-owned product via an ocean-going tanker or barge on a 24-hour per day, seven-day per week basis.

US should station a new First Fleet on our northern coast

The Department of Defence has been busy denying that it may develop a naval port at Glyde Point, 40km northeast of Darwin. It doesn’t deny that the territory government may be encouraged to build one itself. Wink, wink.

If Australia is keen to ensure that the US remains engaged in the region (and dedicated to Australia’s defence), nothing says commitment like infrastructure.

The most attractive feature of building a naval port at Glyde Point may be its future use by the RAN itself. China has announced plans to build a “fishery industrial park” at Daru on the south coast of Papua New Guinea. With no fish in the water but Australia within sight, the planned facility presumably is aimed at threatening the Torres Strait.

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When Australia negotiated the US Marine Corps’ ‘rotational presence’ operating out of Darwin, the plan agreed with Barack Obama in 2010 was ultimately to locate some major US warships at the Australian navy base HMAS Stirling, near Perth.

The NT government has suitable locations for large- scale development of the type needed. And if the federal government was willing also to bear some of the cost of hosting these ships, the proposal becomes more compelling.

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Darwin, a natural northern bulwark

Darwin port has always been a safe haven and vital asset in a sometimes unstable region.

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The 2016 Defence White Paper committed the Government to increasing Defence’s international engagement particularly with countries in the South Pacific and South-East Asia. Darwin provides a fit-for-purpose hub from which to base ADF assets prior to deployment into the region as part of its enhanced international exercises.

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USA Marines finish 2020 rotation

The US Marine Rotational Force Darwin 2020 has completed its ninth rotation in the NT.

The MRF-D has departed after undertaking a range of exercises, which strengthened cooperation and interoperability with the Australian Defence Force.

The 1100 US Marines arrived in a series of tranches and completed a mandatory 14-day quarantine, prior to starting their training; and, were tested for COVID-19 on entry to Australia and a second time prior to exiting quarantine.

One of the Marines tested positive for coronavirus while in quarantine.

Planning is underway for the next year's MRF-D, which will mark its 10-year anniversary.