Pentagon Lays Out Red Hill Transition Plan from Joint Task Force to Navy

November 14, 2023 7:06 PM
Joint Task Force-Red Hill (JTF-RH) completed its second transfer of fuel to merchant tanker Empire State from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility (RHBFSF) on Oct. 26, 2023. US Army Photo

The Department of Defense expects to begin the transition to take over the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility early next year, according to the most recent supplement to the department’s defueling plan.

At the moment, the Joint Task Force – Red Hill is in charge of defueling Red Hill, a necessary step before the facility can be closed as a fuel depot. Joint Task Force – Red Hill was in charge of defueling, while the Navy and the Department of Defense will take on the closure process.
Joint Task Force – Red Hill began the gravitational defueling process on Oct. 16. As of Nov. 10, the joint task force has removed 89,223,876 gallons of fuel from the facility, according to the most recent update.

Gravitational defueling, which uses gravity to remove the fuel from the tanks that hold it, is expected to be finished in early 2024, at which Joint Task Force – Red Hill will begin to pump out residual fuel from pipelines, which is a more active process in order to get the remaining fuel out of the tanks, as well as complete tank bottom flow defueling.

Download the document here.

While Joint Task Force-Red Hill finishes removing residual fuel, it will start to transition the facility to the Navy Closure Task Force-Red Hill. During the transition period, JTF-Red Hill will take the lead, while NCTF-Red Hill will serve in a support position, according to a press release from the joint task force.

“Joint Task Force-Red Hill and Navy Closure Task Force-Red Hill will conduct a tightly-coordinated transition of command-and-control responsibilities to ensure seamless continuity of all health, safety, and environmental protection operations at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility as facility closure begins,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment Brendan Owens said in the release.

The Navy team will be responsible for removing inaccessible residual fuel, about 4,000 gallons, as well as about 28,000 gallons of sludge, according to the supplement.

Under the plan, the commander of Navy Region Hawaii will become a dual-hatted role, with the commander also leading Navy Closure Task Force – Red Hill. Rear Adm. Stephen Barnett is currently the commander of Navy Region Hawaii and will also lead the NCTF – Red Hill, Cmdr. Nicolas Melendez, spokesman with the Joint Task Force – Red Hill said in an email.


Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox