“We’re here to stay.”
That was the message Navy Captain Alan Schrader, commanding officer of Naval Base Kitsap, told members of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce recently.
“What we do here is very unique,” Schrader said. “There aren’t other places like us — that do what we do — anywhere around. So we’re here to stay.”
In light of the upcoming Military Appreciation Day, Schrader was invited to speak to the chamber to tell members about Naval Base Kitsap. Throughout his remarks, he assured them that the longstanding relationship between Naval Base Kitsap and the communities in Kitsap County is strong.
“We have been good partners for years,” he said. “You have been great.”
He took the opportunity to tell members what exactly is part of Navy Base Kitsap and what goes on where, to the degree he could.
“I know there are those of you who see the fence and wonder what’s going on behind there,” he said, of the private access Navy properties throughout Kitsap County. “Well, it’s like a little city with everything, bowling alleys, chapels and childcare. And I’m the mayor.”
He cited the five properties in Kitsap County run by Naval Base Kitsap as Naval Base Bremerton, Bangor, Keyport, Jackson Park (Navy housing and hospital) and Manchester.
“Some of you may be saying ‘Manchester? What’s that?’” he said. “I didn’t know, either, until recently.”
He explained that Manchester is the site of a Navy fueling depot. While aircraft carriers are nuclear-powered, fuel is needed for the Navy aircraft that fly on and off of them. The Manchester fueling point has no underground pipes, he said. Rather ships bring the fuel in and it is stored in tanks until it is used to fuel other needs on ships. There are 300 employees at Manchester and storage for 79 million gallons of fuel oil.
“This is very unique,” he said. “It’s not going anywhere.”
Also, he said, Keyport is unique in that light weight torpedoes are manufactured there. And unmanned underwater vehicles are housed and leave from there.
Over time, the number of people at these locations has increased, he said. In 2004, there was one aircraft carrier stationed here and six submarines. Now, there are two aircraft carriers and eight Trident subs.
While the acres that the Navy has in Kitsap County hasn’t increased since 2009, the value of the infrastructure and buildings has.
“Everything has grown, but the fence lines haven’t moved. We have $11 billion in the value of our infrastructure here. And we employ 35,000 people, which is about a third of the workforce in Kitsap County.”
So, Schrader said, he knows that any shifts they make “affects everyone in the county.”
“When we brought a second carrier to Bremerton, that was an additional 5,000 sailors and on average 2.2 family members with each,” he said. “That was a large increase in the local population and we know it had an impact.”
He also spoke about other programs he was especially proud of, including the security (600 Marines) and fire departments.
“Two or three times a week, we respond to calls outside our fences,” he said. “If something’s on fire on the other side of the fence, we’re not going to let it burn. We help local fire departments and emergency services.”
That is also the case on the water, he added. Because Coast Guard units are stationed in the water surrounding Naval Base Kitsap, they are usually the closest to boats that are in trouble.
“We won’t sit and watch a boat sink,” he said. “We’re usually the first on the scene.”
He highlighted the Navy’s partnerships with Tribal councils.
“They have an interest in what goes on on the water,” he said. “We make sure we are meeting their treaty rights and environmental concerns.”
The work that all of Navy Base Kitsap does in all communities is important.
“Our kids go to the same schools your kids do,” Schrader said. “Only 25 percent of the active duty personnel live on base. We are active in the community doing services that help.”
Involvement includes working in the schools, at local food banks and at community celebrations.
He added that Naval Base Kitsap was recently named the Best Naval Base in America.
“We’re proud of what we do,” he said. “The people who come here and work here love it so much that the Navy has a hard time getting them to go elsewhere when it’s time. They want to know what else is available right here.”
About Capt. Edward Schrader
Capt. Alan Schrader graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1992 with a bachelor of science degree in physics. Additionally, he holds a master of science degree from the University of Colorado in electrical engineering.
His submarine assignments were as a Division Officer on USS Batfish (SSN 681), as Combat Systems Officer on USS Springfield (SSN 761), as Executive Officer on USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) (BLUE), and as Commanding Officer of the USS Nevada (SSBN 733)(Blue). During his command tour, he led the combined crew through the final stages of a 27-month, $200 million Engineered Refueling Overhaul. After crew split, he then led the Blue Crew through all certifications for strategic operations and four strategic deterrent patrols.
His staff and shore assignments include as Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Instructor at the University of Colorado; Executive Officer of Moored Training Ship (MTS 635); Action Officer and Executive Assistant to the Director for Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment (J8), the Joint Staff; and Branch Head, Operations, Evaluation, and Training, Strategic Systems Programs (SP 205).
Captain Schrader is authorized to wear the Legion of Merit, Joint Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), the Joint Staff Achievement Award, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards), and the Battle “E” Efficiency Ribbon (three awards).
In September 2016, Captain Schrader assumed command of Naval Base Kitsap (NBK), which encompasses nearly 11,000 acres in Washington, Alaska and a site in British Columbia, Canada. Locally, NBK’s installations include Bangor, Bremerton, Keyport, Manchester and Jackson Park.
Leslie Kelly can be reached at email@example.com.
This story originally appeared in the Military Appreciation Day special section published by Kitsap News Group March 10, 2017. It appeared as a supplement in the Bainbridge Island Review, Central Kitsap Reporter, North Kitsap Herald and Port Orchard Independent.