Liquid fuels section keeps Barksdale mission-ready

Four-inch copper piping is placed in a storage area behind the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron?s liquid fuels section on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Dec. 3. Craftsmen from the liquid fuels section replaced 3,000 feet of the 1950s copper piping with 12-inch carbon steel on the flightline. All of the copper is being stored until it is salvaged for later use. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristin High)

Four-inch copper piping is placed in a storage area behind the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron?s liquid fuels section on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Dec. 3. Craftsmen from the liquid fuels section replaced 3,000 feet of the 1950s copper piping with 12-inch carbon steel on the flightline. All of the copper is being stored until it is salvaged for later use. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristin High)

Staff Sgts. Daniel Hamden and Jeremy Coker, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels systems maintenance craftsmen rebuild a hydrant refueling control valve for large frame aircraft on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Dec. 3. The hydrant can pump more than 400 gallons of fuel per minute into a B-52H Stratofortress. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristin High)

Staff Sgts. Daniel Hamden and Jeremy Coker, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels systems maintenance craftsmen rebuild a hydrant refueling control valve for large frame aircraft on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Dec. 3. The hydrant can pump more than 400 gallons of fuel per minute into a B-52H Stratofortress. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kristin High)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- All day, every day, planes launch into the air defying the laws of gravity. One of the most important elements in flying the aircraft is the fuel that goes into them. Airmen from the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron liquid fuels section ensure enough clean and dry fuel is retained to keep all missions going, here.

The 2 CES liquid fuels section is responsible for maintaining two jet fuel systems, valued at $25 million, and producing more than 60 million gallons of fuel annually to 47 clean and dry hydrants. The various types of fuels that the section works with includes unleaded and diesel, alternative fuels E85, bio-diesel and jet fuels JP-8 and JP-10.

"We maintain all fuel related real estate on Barksdale," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Hamden, 2 CES water and fuels systems maintenance craftsman. "The Logistics Readiness Squadron's Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants Flight distributes fuel, but we do maintenance for various systems."

Some of the fuel systems on base include the multiple government-owned vehicle service stations.

"Along with fueling the aircraft on Barksdale, our shop is in charge of two military service gas stations," said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Coker, 2 CES water and fuels systems maintenance craftsman. "More than 330,000 gallons of fuel, including alternative fuel is provided to approximately 786 GOVs."

Another fuel system is a pressurized loop under the flight line used to help distribute fuel to the planes in certain parking areas. The total underground piping for the flightline is more than 40,000 feet long.

"Recently, the shop drained more than 15,000 feet of transfer lines to upgrade isolation valves," said Hamden. "The original valves, from around the 1950s, were replaced for more positive controls for isolating sections throughout the transfer lines."

Fuel systems aren't the only item on the 2 CES professionals list of responsibilities.

Most of the work done in the liquid fuels section consists of reoccurring maintenance to repair damaged pipes, prevent catastrophic leaks, conduct inspections for preventative maintenance and correction maintenance after inspections.

"Another big part of our job is tank cleaning," said Hamden. "We clean all the tanks that store fuel, and change their filters to make sure the fuel is clean and dry."

During inspections, fuel is only allowed a mere five microns of particulars, dirt or dust and zero water. It's important for the jet fuel not to have any outside elements, especially water, which can freeze in higher altitudes during flight.

Airmen from the 2 CES liquid fuels section keep all missions around the base going with their work. They take part in everyone's mission, and keep systems up and running.

"We have a significant impact to the direct mission on Barksdale and the Air Force in general," said Coker. "If our systems aren't working, the vehicles can't drive, and jets can't fly."