Navy celebrates finish of $40 million Indian Island project

Posted 4/8/21

The missiles got bigger.

The places where they were stored? Not so much.

As Navy frigates were pulled from service at Naval Station Everett and replaced with guided missile destroyers, more …

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Navy celebrates finish of $40 million Indian Island project

Naval Magazine Indian Island Commanding Officer Cmdr. Don Emerson hands Congressman Derek Kilmer a new set of scissors after the large ceremonial pair of clippers failed to cut the ribbon at Monday’s ceremony marking the finish of the new magazine construction project at Naval Magazine Indian Island. At left is Rear Admiral Stephen Barnett, Commander, Navy Region Northwest.
Naval Magazine Indian Island Commanding Officer Cmdr. Don Emerson hands Congressman Derek Kilmer a new set of scissors after the large ceremonial pair of clippers failed to cut the ribbon at Monday’s ceremony marking the finish of the new magazine construction project at Naval Magazine Indian Island. At left is Rear Admiral Stephen Barnett, Commander, Navy Region Northwest.
Leader photo by Brian Kelly
Posted

The missiles got bigger.

The places where they were stored? Not so much.

As Navy frigates were pulled from service at Naval Station Everett and replaced with guided missile destroyers, more space was needed at Naval Magazine Indian Island to store the stockpile for the newly home-ported ships.

That included missiles, but many of the magazines on Indian Island were built before World War II when munitions were smaller.

Much smaller.

Navy officials gathered with local leaders and military contractors earlier this week to mark the completion of the construction of five bigger-but-better munition-storage magazines and one inert storage building.

Naval Magazine Indian Island Commanding Officer Cmdr. Don Emerson said the new magazines are critical to the facility’s ability to load munitions aboard the Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

“This nearly $40 million military construction project will have immediate and long lasting benefit to our installation ... by enabling us to load and unload munitions in a safe and more efficient manner,” Emerson said.

Each magazine has approximately 10,000 square feet of space. And the doors are three times as wide as most of the magazines on the Navy base, which were built before the start of World War II after the entire 2,700 acres of Indian Island was purchased for $5.5 million from the tribal members and homesteaders who were living there.

“The Navy bought the whole island, constructed 50 magazines, built production and support buildings, a pier and a ferry landing,” noted Dave Bernhard, Deputy Commander of Navy Munitions Command Pacific, CONUS West Division, Unit Indian Island.

Indian Island Naval Magazine was formally established May 10, 1941, he said, seven months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

“During World War II this base had two missions; to load ammo on ships heading to the Pacific Theater and to build and maintain the anti-submarine nets protecting the Puget Sound,” Bernhard said.

The naval magazine saw decreased use after the Korean War, when munitions loading was moved to Bangor, but the base was reactivated and new magazines were built on the island in 1989 and 1996.

The original structures, however, saw continued action.

“Many of our magazines date back to the installation’s original construction more than 75 years ago,” Emerson added. “There are about
100 magazines on this base, and the majority of them are smaller, above ground, igloo-style magazines that were a common design back in the day.”

During World War II, Naval Magazine Indian Island loaded munitions onto ships seven days a week. Sometimes, two ships in one day, Emerson said.

With changes at Naval Station Everett with the arrival of today’s destroyers, however, things also needed to change on Indian Island.

“Modern ships require modern munitions. No matter how hard we try, you just can’t fit a 24-foot missile through an 8-foot door of a World War II-era magazine, or easily work around the shortcomings of the new mags that were built in the ’80s and ’90s,” Emerson explained.

To get the longer missiles into the old magazines, it took several forklifts, multiple moves, and a crane.

Now, missiles can be rolled in without the delicate dance of multiple machines.

“The beauty of these new magazines is we can avoid this complicated process, which ultimately will save money and increase efficiency,” Emerson said.

“These magazines are designed in away that will make it easy to get the job done; they’re wider and shallower in design, with five sliding doors ... that create an opening wide enough for the crews to efficiently move those missiles directly inside,” he said.

Darren Simms of the Doyon Construction Group said each magazine took more than 10,000 cubic yards of concrete to build, as well as “a lot more steel than I can even count.”

Standing in front of one of the new five “Type D” missile magazines before a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, Simms praised the Navy and the civilian contractors for their part in the project.

“We’re very proud of what we’re giving the Navy in the product,” he said. 

Congressman Derek Kilmer recalled visiting Indian Island in August 2019 after the start of construction.

“It was mostly just dirt,” he said of the site.

“Days like this represent progress. There’s a saying that change is inevitable, but progress is optional,” added Kilmer, who represents Washington’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This has really come together. That’s testament to the hard work of the contractor and tradespeople that got this done, even during a global pandemic,” he said. “It’s a testament to all those who were involved in the design and development and construction of this.

“It’s a testament to the Navy and its commitment to our region,” Kilmer added.

It also means added safety for those who work on Indian Island.

“Ensuring our military has access to the resources it needs to remain the finest in the world is both my commitment to the men and women who have chosen to serve and to all of you who deserve a country that is safe and secure,” Kilmer said. “And I remain committed to doing my part to assist this installation in fulfilling its mission.”

There are plans to start using the new storage facilities right away, the commanding officer of Naval Magazine Indian Island said.

“It will be an immediate improvement to how we do business,” Emerson said.

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