Navy marks 125 years in Kitsap

This new year marks the 125th anniversary of the U.S. Navy’s arrival in Kitsap County. During that time, the community has made our nation’s uniformed personnel feel at home and the military has been the area’s major economic engine.

By Capt. Thomas Zwolfer, USN

Naval Base Kitsap

This new year marks the 125th anniversary of the U.S. Navy’s arrival in Kitsap County.

During that time, the community has made our nation’s uniformed personnel feel at home and the military has been the area’s major economic engine. Naval Base Kitsap is now the Navy’s third-largest installation, housing 70 tenant commands that together employ 15,000 military personnel, 17,000 civilian employees and more than 7,000 contractors, along with supporting 25,000 retirees.

This coming year we’ll see some changes that will have significant benefit to the community and others that may not be visible to the public but will better support the Fleet, Fighter and Family.

The Navy recently announced that USS Nimitz will call Kitsap home through 2019. The crew and their families received a warm welcome when they arrived for maintenance at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in 2015 and the community appears to be equally excited that the ship will remain here for the next few years.

Work on the Nimitz and other vital projects will keep PSNS & IMF humming at a steady pace for years to come. The command’s services have been in such high demand that employment levels are at their highest level since World War II.

PSNS & IMF will also see the completion of seismic renovations to the fire station and machine shop. These efforts are among several Navy construction projects spearheaded by Naval Facilities Engineering Commander Northwest (NAVFAC). Explosives Handling Wharf 2 (EHW2) is the largest, which is also currently the nation’s largest military construction project, and will be completed in 2016.

Because of the workload, NAVFAC sees an uptick in hiring anticipating about 150 vacancies in the coming months. Positions range from laborer to public works supervisor and from work control assistants to facilities management and facilities services.

Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport also anticipates hiring a significant number of employees this year, particularly engineers and cyber experts. Many commands post job vacancy information on their Facebook pages, but information about all federal career opportunities can be found at

At NBK, our mission of supporting the Fleet, Fighter and Family by providing exceptional service gives us an impetus to creatively meet that mission. We even look out for our youngest clients.

For example, Fleet and Family Support Center’s popular Exceptional Family Member Program will see an increase in the number of family-friendly events in 2016.

Families will be pleased that the Child and Youth Program is expanding the “Start Smart” sports program for young children where children develop the basic motor skills necessary for organized sports.

The Navy Exchange at Bangor celebrated the opening of the package store last month and now the focus shifts to NBK Bremerton, with a $2.7 million store upgrade. This encompasses relocating the barber and beauty shop to the main store and major upgrades throughout the building.

Quality of life factors into everything NBK does, so the Bremerton Recreation Center is also being modernized. The reconfiguration will better serve customers with the addition of a snack bar, soundproof music room, dedicated office space and new bowling lighting. NBK — Bangor will see a portion of The Inside Out Café converted to an outdoor rental facility as part of the upgrade.

Specifically for our Fighters, major remodels continue in Unaccompanied Housing at two NBK — Bangor buildings. These apartment-style units give our service members a more efficient and homey place to relax and recharge. Additionally, the award-winning Bremerton Navy Gateway Inn and Suites begins a $5.5 million whole-room concept renovation.

NBK — Bangor Galley will open a satellite facility at EHW2 to feed security force personnel at lower base. And, speaking of food, one of the most highly anticipated projects is the Jan. 4 opening of the All American Grill at NBK — Bremerton. This hybrid facility offers a unique approach to food service since it is both a galley and a restaurant. The onsite chef will develop a variety of entrees and daily specials to accompany an array of side dishes, soup and salad bar, desserts and beverages. Specialty hot beverages such as espresso will also be available.

The general public will once again have the opportunity to sample the mouth-watering array of foods prepared by the NBK galley and numerous other commands at the 24th annual Armed Forces Culinary Arts Competition at Olympic College on May 14. This free event features mouth-watering treats created by the Puget Sound region’s best culinary arts specialists.

These major projects and hiring initiatives ensure that the Navy will continue to support the Fleet, Fighter and Family while providing economic benefits to the local community.

— Capt. Zwolfer is commanding officer of Naval Base Kitsap.