The winter of 1952 brought a lovely dusting of white to the Commanding Officer's Quarters.
Captain James A. Prichard
July 1, 1951-August 1, 1955
Captain H. A. Pieczentkowski
September 18, 1955-July 21, 1955
Captain James A. Prichard
July 22, 1955-December 51, 1957
Captain William B. Moore
January 1, 1958-June 30, 1960
Dragging on the heels of the postwar lag in production of weapons, the 1950's started out rather
slow. In fact, with only 221 civilians and 100 military members, the Naval Torpedo Station
was directed to consolidate with the Naval Ammunition Depot at Bangor. The new, combined
activity was call Naval Ordnance Depot and it lasted all of two years.
In 1951 civilian employment levels jumped to 626 in response to an increased workload due to
the onset of Korean hostilities.
The civilian workforce continued to rise during the decade, reaching a peak of nearly 1,000.
Numerous employee programs and recreational activities became annual events.
In the mid-50's, NTS extended its northeastern borders by filling in 2.37 acres of the north
lagoon, making it virtually non-existent.
The civilian workforce gathers in front of Building #1 in 1954 for presentation of the
Secretary of the Navy Award for Achievement in Industrial Safety.
A young sailor by the name of Frank McSpadden, on roving patrol in 1952, takes time out of his
day to pose for a photo on the Station's Pier #2.
Sam Watland proudly displays his first-place winning salmon in the first annual NTS Salmon
Derby, sponsored by the Employee Service Association (forerunner of today's Recreation
Association) in 1954. Sam, a worker in the Pipe and Storage Shop, caught his 19 pounder in the
waters off Point No Point, Hansville.
The industrial area is shown here just before it was extended in 1954. The area, which is now
parking lot #1 and Building 514, was known as the north lagoon and was filled in with 80,000
cubit yards of material from a dredge operation off Pier #1, adding 2.37 acres.
Visitors to Keyport's 40th birthday open house line Pier #1 to watch a torpedo firing
In 1955, Keyport held an open house for the community to celebrate Armed Forces Day and the
Station's 40th birthday. The Allied Trade Shop, Diving Locker, and Machine Shop were all
opened for tours.
Throughout the decade, visitors flocked to the Naval Torpedo Station. Groups representing
chambers of commerce, Lions Clubs, historical societies, and more were treated to tours and
presentations on the importance of the Navy and its contributions to the development of Kitsap
The Marine security force was replaced by a civilian guard force in 1958. The Marines had
been part of Keyport since 1916 and had served on horseback in the early days, patrolled with
dogs in the 40's, and performed as auxiliary firefighters.
Technical research expanded throughout the decade and the torpedo began to develop into a more
complex undersea weapon.
More modern equipment and facilities were added. By the late 50's, the Keyport Range was all
but retired as the Station began more and more testing of the deep
Visitors flocked to Keyport to take part in the Station's 40th birthday open house in 1955.
Here, an employee demonstrates a modern machine, a fine pitch redliner used to check gears.
A torpedo is launched off the firing pier into the Keyport Range in Port Orchard Inlet. The
pier, which was attached to the Station's Pier #1, was decommissioned in 1963. The Keyport
Range has rarely been used for testing since that time.
Visiting children enjoy an insider's view of the Diving Locker's hyperbaric chamber, which was
built at Norfolk Navy Yard in 1930. The children were touring the chamber, one of the oldest in
the Navy, during NTS' annual Armed Forces Day Open House in 1956.
The new three-dimensional underwater tracking range at Dabob Bay attracted the interest of
numerous top level officials. The above dignitaries prepare to board a waiting helicopter for a
whirlwind tour of the area. From left, Dr. Joseph Henderson, Director of the Applied Physics
Laboratory and developer of the 3-D range; Rear Admiral Frank Watkin, Commandant 13th
Naval District,. Vice Admiral Hyman Rickover, Chief of the Naval Reactor Branch of the Atomic
Energy Commission and Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ships for Nuclear Propulsion, Captain
William Moore, NTS' Commanding Officer; Senator Henry Jackson; and Captain William
McLaren, NAD Bangor Commanding Officer.
Captain Prichard, in the center, played host to a number of community groups during the
1950's. The Station was a popular attraction, especially as its facilities were modernized to
accommodate the arrival of more advanced weapons. Other Station officers present are: to the
left of Prichard Lieutenant Commander Striklin, to the right: Commander Cochran, and
Lieutenant J.G. Heif.
Keyport employees sponsored a special Christmas Party in the late 50's for underprivileged
children from the local community. Captain William Moore and Santa pose with the delighted
children and their new toys.
water weapons. The newly established Dabob Bay Range began seeing full usage by this time.
new range was set up, in cooperation with the Applied Physics Lab of the University of
Washington, to track torpedoes and targets three-dimensionally.
In 1958 the USS Sargo (SSN-583) was the first submarine to work with the Station at Dabob
Bay in tracking the underwater course of the newly developed acoustic torpedoes and their
The Marine security force stands at attention at the Station's main gate. The Marines provided
security for the torpedo station for more than 40 years.
This new technology allowed for greater accuracy in test results.
The Station's mission was
revised in 1958 to take into account changes which, in essence, brought the Station from the age
of steam torpedoes into the age of
electronics, featuring delicate, miniaturized, transmitter homing and guidance systems.
With an environment ideal for spawning, the lagoon became home to over four million fry and
fingerling salmon in 1958. The Station, working in conjunction with the State Fish Farm
Program to plant the salmon, hosted the fish for several years.
A diver in a monstrous-looking suit (Mk 5 Dive System) is lowered into the waters off Pier #1
for a training exercise in 1947. Today's divers use the Fly Away Diving System, featuring the
Mk 12 diving suit which is much lighter and more flexible than the old Mk 5. With this latest
system, divers can dive up to the maximum depth established for this Station of 170 feet.
Navy Diving: A Strong Program Since 1919
Though times, equipment, and procedures have changed, one thing remains the same today: it
takes a special breed of human being to volunteer to descend into dangerous depths of sea-a
darker than dark abode full of reminders that you are somewhere you don't naturally belong.
The Torpedo Station has long been a source of top Navy divers. In 1919, Keyport held its first
diving class with eight or nine enlisted men, under the direction of
Divers are a funny bunch of people, or so said an article in a January 1976 issue of the
Bremerton Sun. For those who have never met a Navy diver, the article continued, he is a
legendary man who has fought innumerable sharks, giant squids, disported with mermaids; sea
snakes have been known to die after biting a diver. And if that is hard to believe, the article
went on, just ask a diver. He will verify every word.
Chief Mickey Nolan.
Those first students were not taught the strict procedures that Navy divers follow today. In
it was common practice for those divers, working 40 feet down on the torpedo range, to do their
job and "shoot" to the surface with little knowledge of the potential consequences. This
stopped abruptly in 1926 when one diver developed Caisson Disease. "The bends," as the disease
is commonly known, is a painful condition in which nitrogen gets into the blood stream as a
result of rising too quickly from the depths.
Though Keyport now has a recompression chamber for treating the bends, in those days the
nearest one was Victoria, British Columbia. However, because time is at a premium in treating
such cases, those afflicted with the bends would be suited up and lowered into the deepest
possible area, usually off Seattle where the bay was 200 feet.
By the 1940's the diving school had become fully equipped to train and qualify second class
divers. The whole diving program was highly recognized for its expert
divers whose first and most important job was to aid in the recovery of torpedoes gone
During the same decade, the Diving Locker, as it is called today, became home to the area's only
recompression chamber. In fact, the Diving Locker also became equipped with a mobile chamber
to be on hand wherever needed throughout the Pacific Northwest.
The diving operation of the 1980's is tasked to support the Station's ranges by assisting in the
recovery of torpedoes and other test units, and by performing ship's husbandry. In addition, the
Diving Locker assists in area search and rescue missions.
Robert Sheats: A Man of the Sea
The Navy Diving Program has brought many divers to Keyport over the years, but there is one
whose memory is bound to hang around for a while. He was known to some as the "Man of the
Sea," and to others as "Aquanaut," meaning breed of man who is at home under the sea.
Master Diver, Robert C. Sheats was well recognized for his underwater work in the U.S. Navy.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1935, qualified as second class diver in 1937 and became first class
diver in 1939, followed by Master Diver in 1958.
Robert's life has held moments of danger and excitement that many of us would rather watch on
the big screen than experience. During World War II, he was
This young diver's smile may be due to the fact that he is part of a top-notch diving program in
1954. Keyport 's divers have been constantly recognized for their good work since 1919, when
the first diving school was held.
Master Diver Sheats, left, goes over new procedures with divers at the Diving Locker in 1965.
taken prisoner by the Japanese and forced to dive for the Philippine Treasury which had been
purposely hidden in Manila Bay.
His release from the prisoner of war camp in 1945 was the beginning of years to follow of
underwater salvage work. As Master Diver at Keyport from 1958 to 1966, he faced many
heartwrenching and honorable assignments which included recovering the bodies and black
boxes from small plane crashes.
In 1962 he earned the title, Outstanding Enlisted Man of the Area, presented by the Federal
Business Association of Seattle.
In 1965 he took a step into national notoriety as team leader in the Sealab II Project off the
coast of California.
Robert retired from Naval service at Keyport in 1966 and a few years later was the first to
receive the annual Man of the Sea Award, given by the National Association of Underwater
Today, Robert is a consultant on diving safety in Poulsbo, Washington.
Beyond his sea stories, the Navy Diver has been known to do hard, physically demanding work.
He is recognized as an expert in his field and is frequently called upon to assist both military
and civilians during times of emergency and disaster throughout the Northwest.