By John L. Capp, Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military is planning to spend $1.8 billion to buy and equip the ocean for the next decade, a move that could create a vast oceanic “seafound” to serve as a “basket” for ships that will be deployed to the world’s oceans by 2035.
The Army Corps of Engineers is also considering a similar initiative to buy seawater storage tanks to store seawater for future use.
It would also make the aquaculture industry an option for the Pentagon to explore.
Under a memorandum from the Navy, it will buy at least 1,200 tanks and pump them with seawater from a site in the central Pacific.
The plan is a stark departure from what was done for decades in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The BP cleanup cost more than $200 billion, but the industry recovered almost all of the oil from the ocean.
The tanks will be built in a way that does not require expensive dredging, and they are expected to last decades.
A spokesman for the Army Corps said in a statement that the tanks will help meet future demand for seawater.
It will also improve the reliability of existing aquacultural facilities in the region, such as those in the U.K. and New Zealand.
The aquaculturing industry has grown as the Navy has expanded its operations in the world of marine agriculture, where saltwater and fresh water are mixed in large quantities.
In the past decade, the Navy expanded its operation to include the creation of a new marine facility at Fort Worth, Texas, that is expected to produce more than 1.5 million gallons of seawater annually.
The seawater is not used in commercial farming, but it can be used in aquachemical processing to create fertilizer and other products.
The Navy has said it plans to invest $400 million over the next two years to establish an aquacenter in the Philippines, and is considering opening a plant in the Bahamas to grow seaweed.