‘Piering’ into future: Construction to improve fuel operations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Construction preparations for a new pier, which is used to receive jet fuel, began April 3, 2017.


The project, which is overseen by the 733rd Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Facilities, is expected to be completed in 18 months.

According to Alan Whitman, 733rd LRS fuels storage contractor, workers are currently preparing for the new pier by moving water lines and things of that nature, and dredging the river to clear out the channel to make the new pier accessible to barges once it is put into place.

Whitman also explained that the current pier is outdated and not up to industry standards. Along with the new standards in place and the projected flood plain for the installation over the next 50 years, the pier could not simply be repaired, but had to be replaced completely.

“(This pier has survived) Isabelle, Floyd and even Matthew and Sandy, but every time something broke, it put us out of commission for upwards of two to three months,” said Whitman. “With the new standards and the way the facility is going to be built, it should be able to withstand any and all of that so we can provide absolutely not interruption in service whatsoever.”

Construction of the new pier is also an important mission requirement for the 1st Fighter Wing.

According to U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Michael Lance, 733rd LRS fuels facilities NCO in charge, when the pier is out of commission, the 733rd LRS fuels facilities is forced to receive fuel by truck, which impacts the effectiveness of mission operations.

“The last time there was a storm, the whole pier seemed to have shifted over a foot, so we had no access to the pier for about three months, and we were receiving fuel by tank trucks instead of by barge, ” said Lance. “It really put a hinder on us, for the fact that you can receive one barge and offload about almost 700,000 gallons of fuel where one truck is only 7,500 gallons. In order to keep up or increase fuel level just a little bit, we would have to receive about 20 trucks a day with (normal flight operations). Then, there a lot of transient aircraft that also get fueled.”

The new pier will be constructed out of concrete and will measure approximately 36 feet-wide to give first responders proper access to the waterway in case of an emergency. Additionally, a boat ramp will be included for easier access for first responders. 

“We’ll be able to have emergency vehicles on the pier and the fire department will be able to deploy their boat during any incidents,” said Lance adding that new cameras will also be installed to help 633rd Security Forces members keep an eye on the Back River and pier itself.”

Although it’ll be a while before the U.S. Air Force Airmen involved in fueling operations can break in the new pier, Lance expressed his gratitude for the new structure.

“(The new pier) will be able to withstand storms a lot better and won’t be out of commission for three months at a time,” he said. “It’ll also be safer in general. This new pier is important because my guys out there will be safe and we can continue our mission without delays—at Langley, that’s very important.”