Indian Island marks change in leadership

Posted 6/29/23

One offered memories and milestones. The other, a pledge and a promise.

Navy Cmdr. Andrew Crouse passed command of Naval Magazine Indian Island to a new leader last week, handing the reins of …

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Indian Island marks change in leadership


One offered memories and milestones. The other, a pledge and a promise.

Navy Cmdr. Andrew Crouse passed command of Naval Magazine Indian Island to a new leader last week, handing the reins of the installation to Cmdr. Todd Galvin.

The changeover was steeped in tradition on the pier at the Navy base, from a crowd dotted with sailors in their dress whites, to the parading to the colors, and then, to the “piping ashore” of Crouse and the “piping aboard” of Galvin, the incoming commanding officer.

Naval Magazine Indian Island, the Navy’s premiere deep-water ammunition port on the West Coast, was established in May 1941. It dominates the 2,700-acre Indian Island, and has more than 100 ammunition magazines, bunker-like structures that hold munitions ranging from ship-launched missiles to small-arms ammunition.

Navy Rear Admiral Mark Sucato, commander of Navy Region Northwest, recalled the establishment of the base just seven months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 

During World War II, the base worked around the clock, loading up to two ships a day with munitions, assembling mines and manufacturing giant anti-submarine nets that protected Puget Sound waterways from enemy vessels. 

Being a commander is somewhat new territory for Navy aviators, who grow up in a team-based environment, Sucato said.

Not getting invited to dinner or lunches anymore is a bit of a shock, he added.

“Command is more emotionally taxing than it looks. It really is a lonely job; all the cliches are true,” Sucato told the crowd of sailors, family, friends, and visiting dignitaries.

“Families really are your anchors,” he said, again acknowledging the relatives of both Crouse and Galvin in the crowd.

The Navy’s roots in the Pacific Northwest run deep, stretching back more than a century, Sucato noted.

“In times of war and peace, we’ve been here providing security as well as support to the country. We take great pride in being good stewards of the environment. And taxpayers’ money, as well as the folks who have been entrusted to be on our team,” he said.

Sucato himself recalled coming to his new command about a year ago, to a region with Navy assets that had earned a particularly strong reputation.

“The team of Nav Mag Indian Island did not disappoint,” he added.

“I think Indian Island has done an exceptional job over the last three years under Cmdr. Crouse. They met every requirement in support of their various customers, which include the Navy, the Army, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, as well as our allies throughout the Pacific. 

This is a team that’s safely, efficiently handled more than 123,000 tons of conventional ordnance, 60 vessels, and 2,000 commercial trucks across this pier,” he said.

The Indian Island pier provides the majority of the ordnance for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which is the largest part of the United States Navy, and the base accomplished the feat with 100 percent ordnance accountability.

“If you’re in the ordnance business, accountability is the coin of the realm,” Sucato said, and he praised the installation’s “flawless record” over the last three years.

“Andrew, you’ve been a great teammate and a fantastic partner,” he told Crouse. You’ve really excelled at what is a quite challenging job.”

Crouse, who took over as commanding officer of the installation in June 2021, was then presented with a Navy Meritorious Service Medal.

A Navy pilot who has logged more than 2,000 flight hours in the E-2 Hawkeye, an early warning aircraft, Crouse said his two years at the base had really flown by fast.

“We have excelled and exceeded expectations,” Crouse said, praising the talented, dedicated and motivated sailors “who come to the island every day ready to work.”

Before his final words to the sailors he was leaving behind, Crouse took a long pause before uttering the words that so many of them have heard before.

“Oh, yeah. Go Chiefs!” said the longtime Kansas City football fan.

Galvin also took a light touch in his short speech. He thanked his mother and father for flying out to attend the ceremony.  

“I know the retirement social calendar is exceedingly busy. I know you had a lot of afternoon boat rides, campfires, and margaritas planned. I think the day turned out better than we expected.”

Galvin said he was humbled “to take command of this beautiful island and the team that supports it.”

He thanked those who had assisted with the transition to his new command, and to support the sailors and team he has been tapped to lead.

“It’s been an adventure and continues to be so,” he said of his Navy service. 

Galvin is from Onalaska, Wisconsin, and earned his officer commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps at Marquette University, where he holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering.

Galvin comes to Indian Island following his service as the Lead for Rotational Global Force Management Processes in the Future Operations Directorate at U.S. Africa Command.

Also a Navy aviator, he has logged more than 2,300 flight hours in the SH-60B and MH-60R Seahawk, both Navy workhorse helicopters.

The next assignment for Crouse will be on the
USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier based out of San Diego, California.