China-Made Batteries Eliminated from Navy, Marine Corps Infrastructure After Camp Lejeune Incident

Signage stands on the main gate to Camp Lejeune Marine Base
Signage stands on the main gate to Camp Lejeune Marine Base outside Jacksonville, N.C., April 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

After national security concerns spurred an American power company to disconnect Chinese-manufactured batteries from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, last year, the Department of the Navy said it has taken a "proactive approach" to procure American or allied-supplied batteries for its installations, according to a letter from the service obtained by

The department, which includes the Marine Corps, also said that it will ensure no "utility-scale" Chinese batteries will be used in government operations for the services, according to the letter. The missive was dated March 28, roughly four months after lawmakers raised concerns about the batteries on the Marine Corps installation.

The letter, which was addressed to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and provided to by his office, was in response to concerns penned by nearly 30 other lawmakers after Chinese-produced lithium batteries from the Contemporary Amperex Technology Company, or CATL, were installed at Camp Lejeune late last year.

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“To prevent any supply chain risks from occurring in the future, the DoD will require, to the maximum extent possible, that our partners source all components from American or allied-­nation sources,” the letter said.

Lawmakers, defense officials and national security experts have scrutinized Chinese infrastructure in the U.S., generally citing concerns that it could provide means for Beijing to spy on American assets, including military ones.

"CATL batteries should not be allowed in our country, let alone on our military bases," Rubio told on Wednesday in a statement. "It is encouraging to see DoD recognize the threat of CATL systems and take steps to protect our national security interests."

Duke Energy, the American power company, told in December that it immediately disconnected the batteries after these concerns were raised. According to the letter, the Navy said that it was unaware that Duke Energy purchased batteries made in China and instead had approved a contract for batteries made in Japan. asked Duke Energy why it had installed the Chinese-manufactured batteries, but a spokesperson did not specifically answer the question. The letter from the Navy said that the company installed the CATL batteries for "technical reasons," but did not specify.

"We have engaged in positive discussions and reached agreement with the Navy regarding the path forward for the BESS facility at Camp LeJeune," according to Kaitlin Kirshner, a spokesperson for the company. BESS stands for Battery Energy Storage Systems, which are manufactured by Toshiba, a Japanese-owned company.

"By 2027, we are voluntarily moving away from specifying CATL battery energy storage technologies," she said. "As an American energy company, we welcome the ability to use American-manufactured batteries."

The congressional inquiry and the Navy response both alluded to a China-dominated lithium battery market. The Department of Energy said in a report from February 2023 that China controls the largest global capacity share of batteries and battery materials.

That concentrated market centers around factors such as China's investment in cobalt mines needed to produce batteries and higher labor costs in the U.S. for engineers and "semi-skilled" workers, according to the DoE report.

The Navy letter said that the Pentagon conducted an internal review of its facilities after lawmakers raised concerns and "did not find any instance whereby a CATL battery is owned or operated on a [Defense Department] installation."

It said that CATL employees will not have access to Lejeune and the company's batteries would not have any "physical or electronic data connections." Duke Energy said in December that the batteries were not tied to the base's systems or networks. attempted to contact CATL on Thursday, but did not hear back from the company by publication. In a statement after Congress raised concerns last year, the company said in a December press release that "accusations about CATL batteries posing security threats are false and misleading."

"CATL's business and products in the U.S. do not collect, sell or share data, and cannot directly interact with [the] electrical grid or any other critical infrastructure," it said.

The Navy also did not respond to a request for comment on the letter. contacted the Department of Energy asking whether CATL batteries are considered an infrastructure threat, but did not hear back by publication.

Last year, The New York Times reported that the Biden administration was looking for Chinese malware embedded in power grids and communications systems. According to the report, officials were concerned that potential malware could disrupt military operations around the world, especially as tensions between the U.S. and China ramp up in the Pacific.

Related: National Security Concerns Spur Disconnection of Chinese Batteries from Camp Lejeune

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