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Asia Minute: U.S. military is building new fuel storage tanks in the Indo-Pacific

MRF-D main body warmly welcomed to the Top End Australia raaf darwin
Cpl. Scott Reel/U.S. Marines
Marines from the Ground Combat Element arrive at Royal Australian Air Force's Base Darwin to join the Marine Air-Ground Task Force as a part of Marine Rotational Force - Darwin, April 3, 2014. (U.S. Marines)

Work is underway on a U.S. military fuel storage facility in the Asia-Pacific. It’s nowhere near Red Hill — in fact it’s more than 5,000 miles away.

If you look at a map of Australia, on the northern part of the country, there’s a portion that bumps out into the water — sometimes called the “Top End” of Australia’s Northern Territory.

It’s the closest part of the country to Southeast Asia — a few hundred miles from the southern part of the Indonesian archipelago.

It’s home to the capital city of the Northern Territory — Darwin — and that’s where a rotational force of U.S. Marines has deployed for part of the year for the past decade.

The size of that rotation started with a couple of hundred — growing to about 2,500 before the pandemic.

And it’s near the base used by those Marines where the U.S. military is building a storage facility for jet aviation fuel.

According to the NT Independent, work has begun on the $270 million facility, which will eventually have 11 large tanks capable of holding nearly 80 million gallons of fuel.

That’s a little less than a third of the capacity of Red Hill — and points to a continued desire on the part of the U.S. military for more fuel capacity close to the Indo-Pacific region.

It also comes as the U.S. and Australia deepen military ties.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that construction on the fuel storage facility is expected to be finished by September 2023.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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