NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — This was a busy place last year.

The fuel pump statistics tell the story.

Last year, the naval station’s Fuel Division pumped 374 million gallons of fuel to planes, ships and vehicles. Nobody knows if it is a base record, but it was second only to Diego Garcia worldwide.

It is one of the reasons why the base was named the runner-up for the 2004 American Petroleum Institute Award, established to recognize the top fuel operators in the Navy. American Petroleum Institute is an internationally recognized trade organization.

“It’s like our Super Bowl,” Chief Petty Officer Rey Noblezada said. “It’s a prestigious award.”

Pilots and ship captains crossing the globe have come to rely on Rota as a place to get some rest and some fuel. The base served as a major hub during the early months of the Iraq war and throughout the war on terror.

The division’s team of 21 military personnel — in addition to a cadre of local-national civilian employees — has been working around the clock to provide service to meet the demand.

To put the volume of fuel pumped last year into perspective, the base typically pumped between 50 million and 75 million gallons annually before the war, said Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Clark, the division’s leading petty officer.

Being named runner-up helps show how busy the Navy base has been, he added.

“Without question we have opened everyone’s eyes to what Rota can do,” Clark said.

The relatively small staff of sailors in the division work 12-hour shifts to ensure that they can provide 24-hour service.

Rota was tied with Jacksonville, Fla., in the Navy Bulk Fuel Terminals category. Diego Garcia took the top spot. In the Navy retail fuel activities category, Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, was the runner-up to Ventura County, Calif.

The institute has sponsored the annual awards since 1989. Winners are selected based on such factors as fuel operation and mission support, maintenance, training, safety and inventory control.

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