USN New Bedford (IX-308).
The Technology Boom
The Keyport peninsula of the 1980's. The area's natural beauty is evident in the Olympic
Mountains and Hood Canal on the western horizon.
|Captain Charles H. Wilbur ||August 29, 1980-July 18, 1985 |
|Captain Robert W. Hoag, II ||July 18, 1985-present|
The 1980's were a decade of greatness for NUWES as it lead the Navy and even Department of
Defense into the technology boom of the era. Numerous inventions, innovations, technological
firsts, and awards furthered NUWES' standing as an activity of excellence.
The decade began with a bang-literally-that stunned the world, but had little effect on the
Station: Mt. Saint Helens. The volcano's eruption on May 18, 1980, and its fallout of ash caused
great concern at Keyport where sensitive equipment would most certainly be irreparably
damaged by fine ash particles. Through quick planning, the Station came up with protection and
cleanup programs which, as it turned out, were never used. Saint Helens spared the Puget Sound
area and sent its fallout elsewhere.
The NUWES Fire Station beat 41 other stations worldwide to earn the title of Best Navy Fire
Quarters G, as it looked in 1981, is one of only two structural reminders of the Keyport
pioneers. This turn of the-century home was built and owned by Peter Hagen.
In 1981 the traditional paper timecard and its analog time clock were replaced by a new
computerized system known as Source Data Automation Equipment (SDAE or "Sadie").
Employees received new permanent plastic cards and all timekeeping was done via terminals
linked to a central computer in the Data Processing Department. In addition, jobs such as
torpedo parts orders, could now be tracked through each stage of progress via this terminal.
Taking a giant leap to the forefront of industrial technology in the Department of Defense,
NUWES began developing robots in 1981. The robots, which were soon put into use, were to do
dangerous and/or repetitive work at a much faster speed than could be done by humans.
This work included fueling of torpedoes, painting, and welding.
The technology boom continued in 1982 as the Station's Local Area Network (LAN) was
installed. This was the first such Station wide computer linkup established in the entire Naval
Sea Systems Command community. The LAN now serves over 40 buildings and more than 3,000
Later in the year, a fiber optic network was installed between buildings to replace the outdated
On-board the YF-855 to operate test equipment in support of the installation of the new
Quinault Range, Andrea Boughner Medoff proved in 1980 that she dared go where no other
woman had gone before-or rather she dared do what no other woman had done before: she slept
overnight on a range craft. Andrea not only achieved that first for women, but also went on in
1987 to become the first woman to hold the position of department chief engineer.
The Tethered Remotely Operated Vehicle Navy (TROV), is hoisted onto the deck of one of NUWES'
range craft in 1980. TROV, which is maneuvered via a series of electric power thrusters, is
used to recover lost objects from the ocean bottom. The operator watches through a television
camera and then maneuvers TROV's two claws to pick up submerged objects and return to the
NUWES began developing robots in 1981 for industrial work such as painting. Robots have
since been put into use performing welding tasks and fueling torpedoes in addition to painting.
Such development has earned NUWES the reputation of being a leader in technological advances.
A duck and her ducklings make an excursion over the seawall rockery in 1981. Ducks and geese
find Keyport a dandy place to roost. Though the lagoon is their official place of residence,
a few of
our fowl friends have been spotted in the industrial area, begging for handouts.
The landmark water towers, considered unsafe in the event of an earthquake, were removed in September 1981. In 1918, the towers's installation cost totaled $8,075 and 63 years later, the cost to dismantle them was
$39,000. Building #17, in the foreground, was built in 1914 and for many years was used as stables for the Station's work horses.
conventional cables used to process torpedo run tapes. The new network set NUWES up well for
the future, providing more capability than the Station could use at that time.
Also in 1982, NUWES was the first-ever government activity to receive the Industrial
Pollution Control Award-an award bestowed annually since 1970. The honor came as a result of
the new Industrial Waste Treatment Plant at Keyport that was created to turn substances from
hazardous to harmless-and often reusable.
In 1983 the Station was presented the first of three Golden Anchor Awards. The anchor, which
was awarded annually since 1973, came from Naval Sea Systems Command in recognition of
NUWES' enlisted personnel retention record from 1982. The other awards were presented for
the records of 1986 and 1987.
Yet another award was taken by NUWES. This one
One of Indian Island's fox family takes a breather on a beach piling. The commitment to protect
wildlife such as the fox earned NUWES the Department of Defense Natural Resources
The new Mk 50 Building opened in 1984. Officially dedicated on October 2, this modern facility
provides 70,000 square feet in support of the lighweight torpedo's development, technical and
operational evaluation, production, and shop support.
David Rossi son of the Supply Officer, faced with moving to a new duty station in 1985, wanted
to leave something behind for all future generations of Keyport children. So he decided to plant
the Christmas tree that he and his father, Commander Phil Rossi, had picked out two years
earlier, near the playground. The noble fir still stands with its plaque, "To the children of
Keyport, From: David Rossi age 5, Quarters G, April 1985."
was the Secretary of Defense Natural Resources Conservation Award, given June 14, 1983. The
honor was earned largely due to the efforts of the previous three years in creating a program to
actively protect the natural environment and wildlife population at Indian Island.
In November of 1983, a small television network was tested. Officials were anticipating that
the network could be used to bring training seminars directly to the desks of employees and to
Fiscal Year 1983 turned out to be a productive one for NUWES which earned the Chief of Naval
Material Productivity Excellence Award. The Station was one of eight Naval activities to receive
this honor for significant improvements to productivity and quality of worklife.
The Advanced Technology Training Center (known affectionately as the "attic") opened in May of
1984. It's four laboratories: fiber optics, robotics, microprocessors, and computers, were
established to provide an avenue for research, training and demonstration for all NUWES employees.
Groundbreaking for the Naval Museum of Undersea Warfare (later changed to Naval Undersea
Museum) took place in July of 1985. On the same day, the new Main Gate was dedicated. The gate
was first opened to traffic on September 23 after the new Pass and LD. Office was completed.
Budget Officer, Gail Skavland, in 1985, became the first woman to break out of the General
Schedule (GS) rate and into the upper echelon of management by being selected to be Budget
Officer, GM-13, a position
November of 1985 was memorable, especially to those on Pier #1 who arrived one morning to
find this small building transformed by a broken water main into a crystal palace. The
"blizzard" that had hit the night before, stranded commuters, many of whom opted to stay in the
Station's Bachelor Enlisted Quarters and Gymnasium where emergency quarters were set up.
That month, an unusual 20 inches of snowfall was recorded in the area.
which fell under the Merit Pay System (later renamed the Performance Management and
In 1987, another first for women at Keyport was achieved by Andrea
Boughner Medoff who became a department chief engineer. In that position, she was the second
woman to take on a GM ranking.
In 1988, as Persian Gulf operations began to heat up, NUWES
got some incredibly life-like training in antiterrorism measures. In an exercise conducted by
Navy SEALS, Station security personnel and an auxiliary force of military members were tested
for their response to terrorist situations. NUWES' security force made the job of the
"terrorists" extremely difficult and in the end was lauded for its excellent work.
The last Mk 48 Torpedo was ranged in July. The Mk 48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) took the lead at that time
and will be proofed and ranged by Keyport well into the 1990's.
The Golden Anchor, awarded to the Station by its parent command, Naval Sea Systems Command,
attesting to NUWES' excellent reenlistment record.
This giant tank is on its way in 1986 to the prototype Production Acceptance Test and Evaluation
(PATE) Facility. The 35,000 gallon tank will test the feasibility of establishing a facility to
simulate up to 6,000 feet of water for testing torpedoes. By the mid-1990's about 40 percent
could be tested in PATE at Keyport rather than on the ranges.
In 1986, Tim Smith became the first blind machinist to work at Keyport and in the entire
Department of Defense. Though Tim can make out shadows, he depends mainly upon his sense of
touch to accomplish his job. Despite his disability, he produces precision, quality products.
These two women sailors were trained at the firing range as members of the Station's auxiliary
security force in anticipation of an anti-terrorist exercise. The exercise, which was held in
1988 to test NUWES' response to security threats, featured mock attacks by Navy SEALS
trained in the field of terrorism. The security force received high marks for its efforts in
protecting the Station.
Scores of trucks were part of a huge operation held in 1988 at Indian Island. The operation,
called Freedom Banner 88-2, flooded the Island with Navy and Marine Corps personnel from a
Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) from Guam that was being tested for its ability to
efficiently move large numbers of people, equipment and supplies from sea to shore and back
again. The MPF provides supplies and equipment in support of US. forces overseas operations.
Deep Submergence Vehicle, Trieste II, shown above being lifted off a barge, arrived at Keyport
in August 1988 to become a member of the Naval Undersea Museum's collection of artifacts. For
many years Trieste II allowed scientists to explore the oceans' depths and gain valuable
The vehicle was decommissioned in 1984.
The Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on base is an event that annually ushers in the holiday
season. Here, Captain Robert W. Hoag, II and his wife Caroline, take part in the Christmas carol
sing-along at the Quarterdeck in Building 35 following the 1988 lighting.
Ed Lesinski (back row, far right), as a young officer, poses with his shipmates at Keyport in
1957. Other notable officers include Captain James Prichard, front row, center; and Clyde Hudson (current Weapons
Department Head), back row, second from left.
Leading Keyport Into the Age of Advanced Technology: Ed Lesinski's Story
Most Keyport folks know him as "Big Ed," an endearing term that not only refers to his size, but
also his stature at NUWES. As the Station's first, and until recently, only Technical Director,
his work has played a big part in the great advances made by NUWES since 1969.
A native of Buffalo, New York, he graduated from Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
with a degree in mechanical engineering. After graduation, he was appointed to the Naval
Officer's Candidate School.
As a young Ensign, Ed arrived at Keyport in 1956. He was assigned as project officer for a
specific torpedo in the Ordnance Program. Three-dimensional ranging hadn't been fully
implemented at that time and it was extremely different then from what it is today.
A collateral duty for Ed was that of Officer in Charge of the Bachelor Officers' Quarters (BOQ).
The BOQ, which has since been remodeled into the Command Conference Center, sports a plaque
on the second floor imprinted with the words, "Ed slept here, July 1956-May 1959."
After leaving active duty, Ed took a position as GS-9 engineer at the Navy Bureau of Ordnance in
Washington, D.C. He spent 10 years in Washington, assigned to the Bureau of Naval Weapons,
AntiSubmarine System Command.
The year 1969 brought Ed back to Keyport as Technical Director. He was the first GS-16 in the
Northwest-an impressive distinction for someone with relatively short tenure in government
service. By 1972, he was the senior civilian in the 13th Naval District, which included
Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.
During his years at Keyport, Ed's leadership has played an important role in the technological
advances made at Keyport. His dedication to NUWES is especially evident in the fact that as a
member of the Senior Executive Service he was required to rotate to another Naval activity in
1987-he chose, instead, to leave the Senior Executive Service in order to stay at Keyport,
taking the position of Chief Engineer.
Looking back at his years here, it's evident he feels a close bond to the Station and its
"As a Station which is unique," he said "in that its waters would allow us to do things that
stations couldn't do; and that our ranging systems have made a difference; we must continue to
be cost competitive and keep up the good work." If we do, he concluded, we continue to be known
as people who make things happen.
A Keyport Institution: Juanita Bloomquist
It was with a sense of pride and patriotism that a young woman of 22 first walked through the
gates of the Naval Torpedo Station in August 1942 and stayed on for the next 46 years.
Juanita Lippert Bloomquist was one of the many women who answered the call to become a war
worker as the Navy Fleet's need for torpedoes took Keyport into a whirlwind of activity during
World War II.
Looking back to that first day, Juanita was hired on as a laborer in the Sheetmetal Shop. That
shop was part of the Public Works Department headed by Louis Strom.
Floods of new workers were making their way to the Station at this time. "Most of them came
from back in the Midwest," according to Juanita who noted that the employees felt like all one
family working together.
Long, 12 hour days and few weekends off characterized the working conditions. But, said
Juanita, most employees weren't bothered; "they just felt it was their duty." And even more so,
they were happy to have a steady job and paycheck.
As the war came to a close, massive layoffs came as no surprise to the nearly 3,000 employees
that made up the workforce-90 percent of whom were let go. "Everybody had the same feeling
that they were going to come out here to work a couple years and go back home," she noted.
About one month before she was to be layed off, Juanita was offered a position as a
She was thrilled with the prospect of staying on since her relatively new husband, Laverne, was
also spared from the reduction in force.
Juanita progressed through the ranks over the years, becoming the Commanding Officer's
secretary, and then the first woman department head of the newly formed Administration
Department. She remained in that position until her department was combined with the Security
and Military Personnel functions under the lead of a Navy officer. At that time, Juanita became
Office Services Manager for the Administration Division, the position she held at retirement.
Over the years, Juanita has watched Keyport evolve into a highly respected, leading activity.
She said a lot of that has to do with the attitude of the employees. "They're dedicated to their
jobs," she said, adding that this dedication has grown and multiplied over the years.
Even the most dedicated of employees are usually ready to retire after 20 or 30 years, but
Juanita said she liked working too much to leave.
Though gone from her place inside the gates of NUWES, Juanita won't be too far away, living one
block from the Station's boundaries. But still, she said, she's going to miss the people. "These
people were grand," she declared, adding that the ability to laugh has always been a bonus to the job.
Forty-six year veteran of NUWES, Juanita Bloomquist.
"It's been wonderful as a whole," she said at her retirement party in September 1988. "There's
not one year of that 46 years that I would change. Not one of them."