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Photo of torpedo being fired from deck.

USN New Bedford (IX-308).

CHAPTER NINE
The Technology Boom
1980-1989

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Arial photo of Keyport.
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.

Commanding Officers
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 Station.

  Photo of Quarters G.
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.
 
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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 outlets.

Later in the year, a fiber optic network was installed between buildings to replace the outdated system of

  Photo fo Andrea Boughner Medoffon the bridge.
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.

Photo of the ROV being returned to deck.
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 surface.
 
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Painting robot in operation.
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 on the rocks.
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.
 
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Photo of the water towers with building #17 in the foreground.
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

 

Photo of a local fox.
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 Conservation Award

 
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Photo of the Mk 50 Building.
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.
 

Small David Rossi with shovel in front of the tree.
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 conference rooms.

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

 
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Small building covered with ice.
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 Recognition System).

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.

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  The Golden Anchor with 1982, 1986 and 1987 printed on it.
The Golden Anchor, awarded to the Station by its parent command, Naval Sea Systems Command, attesting to NUWES' excellent reenlistment record.
 
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Large tank on a lowboy trailer entering the gate.
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.

Tim Smith working with a file on a part.
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.
 
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Two women firing at targets.
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.

Long line of trucks stopped on a road.
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.
 
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Trieste II being lifted off a barge.
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 insights. The vehicle was decommissioned in 1984.

A couple singing in front of a christmas tree and fireplace.
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.
 
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Group of officers posed for a photo.
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 mission. "As a Station which is unique," he said "in that its waters would allow us to do things that other 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.

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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 clerk-typist. 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.

 

Photo of Juanita Bloomquist.
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."

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