The Keyport Lagoon.
New Roles, New Faces, A New Name
In 1976, the Station donated a small corner of its land across the street from what is now the
main gate, to the town of Keyport. The area was turned into a park which proudly displayed the
town's Navy heritage. The park, which was dedicated in honor of the Bicentennial, contained a
Mk 14 and a 1942 anchor, shown above.
|Captain Jack L. Carter ||August 18, 1972-August 26, 1975 |
|Captain John V. Smith ||August 26, 1975-April 19, 1977 |
|Captain John G. Fletcher ||April 19, 1977-August 29, 1980|
The 1970's became an era of change for the Naval Torpedo Station. By the end of the decade, the
Station had three detachments, numerous new programs and functions, and a new name to reflect
An average of 2,549 civilian employees and 418 military members supported the Station's
efforts in the 1970's.
NAD Bangor was disestablished and Keyport took over its responsibilities in 1970. Also in that
year, Naval Ordnance Station, Forest Park, Illinois, was closed and all of its underwater weapon
functions and many of its employees were transferred to Keyport.
Another vehicle, the Submerged Object Recovery Device (SORD II) was added to the Station's
torpedo recovery program in 1970.
In 1972, the total civilian and military complement (3,158) exceeded the Station's all time
high of 2,856 which was set during World War II. The increase was due primarily to
shiploading efforts in support of the Vietnam conflict.
The Mk 48 Torpedo Shop (Building 514) was dedicated on June 21, 1973. Also in that year, the
selection of Bangor as the site for the Trident Submarine Base added support service
responsibilities to NTS.
An on-going educational program at Keyport in the 1970's frequently brought young people to
the Station for a look at the work done here. Above, a group of children from Blakely Elementary
School are deeply engaged in the modern technology of computer printout cards, while others
are taken more by the camera's eye.
In honor of the Nation's Bicentennial celebration, NTS created its own Bicentennial
Beautification Project which called for the planting of 19 holly oak trees along the southern seawall.
In 1974, an operation in Hawaii was added to the Station's responsibilities, making it NTS'
detachment. In 1976, the Hawthorne and Southern California Detachments were added. Also in
that year, Indian Island, which had been a part of NUWES since 1970, received the status of
Detachment (see more on the detachments later in this chapter). The Station and the town held
celebrations in honor of the Nation's Bicentennial in 1976.
By 1978, with the addition of the three detachments and the many new responsibilities, the
Station's name was outdated. No longer was Naval Torpedo Station sufficient to cover the range
underwater weapons included in its mission. On May 3, 1978, NTS was officially changed to
Naval Undersea Warfare Engineering Station (NUWES), pronounced "news."
To round-out the decade, a new test range was installed at the Washington Coast in 1979. It was
called Quinault Underwater Tracking Range and was established to support the Advanced
Lightweight Torpedo project.
Also in that year, the Foundation for the current Naval Undersea Museum was established.
The Keyport Community Park, a lasting remnant of the Bicentennial celebration, was dedicated
in June of 1976 with Captain John Smith presiding and preparing to unveil the sign, "Welcome
to Keyport, 'Torpedo Town' USA."
Members of the Keyport community went all out for the town's celebration of the Bicentennial.
Firemen served-up a pancake breakfast and Improvement Club members, above, served coffee
to the many attendees of the event. Long-time Station employee, Juanita Bloomquist is second
A grand parade marched down the streets of Keyport for the Bicentennial celebration. The
Station's Marine Color Guard led the way with Commanding Officer Captain John Smith as grand
NUWES: From the Northwest to the South Pacific
The main building of the Hawaii Detachment at Lualualei on the island of Oahu, sits at the base of
the beautiful Waianae Mountain Range.
A typical January day at Keyport brings to mind wet evergreens, chilling north winds,
mudgreen water, and rocky beaches. That's not to put a damper on a Washington winter, but in
one certain January, the Naval Torpedo Station took on a new image.
It was 1974; palm trees, tropical breezes, turquoise ocean, and white coral sand were added to
the image brought forth above. But, as you've guessed, it wasn't in Washington State. It was in
Hawaii, where NTS was inaugurating its first detachment.
Since the Naval Ammunition Depot, Oahu, was being decommissioned, 90 of its employees, who
were to take on the task of supporting the Pacific Fleet in the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
field, needed a parent command. And since NUWES had a similar mission and was located on the
West Coast, it was charged with this new element.
The Detachment has since taken on an increasingly important role, performing ASW system
tests, supporting Fleet exercises at Barking Sands Underwater
Range, and providing engineering support for all areas of weapon testing. Key to the operation
the FORACS Range which provides realistic ASW testing for the Pacific Fleet.
The Detachment includes elements at two locations on the island of Kauai, one at Port Allen, and
the other at Barking Sands. These two remote areas work with the Mk 30 mobile target used in
The Station held a small operation in Hawaii prior to the commissioning of the Detachment. As
part of the Quality Evaluation and Engineering Laboratory, employees took acoustic
measurements from World War II-vintage Quonset huts that were anchored to dusty concrete
slabs, rusted through in places, and nearly unbearable in the intense summer heat. That
operation was turned over to Naval Weapons Station, Seal Beach, California in 1973.
Row upon row of storage buildings, which add up to more than two million square feet of space,
make up the majority of the
Hawthorne Army Ammunition Plant's 250 square miles of land, upon which NUWES' Detachment
is a tenant. These particular buildings, which are maintained by NUWES, are framed by Nevada's Wassuc Mountains.
Somewhere in the deserts of Nevada a small Navy detachment, several hundred miles from any
ocean, maintains 30 percent of the United State's inventory of underwater mines. Though the
desert seems a rather unlikely place for the Navy, Hawthorne is ideal for this NUWES
Hawthorne was a prosperous mining town when it was all but wiped off the map by a major fire
in 1926. Ironically, another devastating fire that same week in another part of the country
brought renewed hope to the charred town. This other fire destroyed a multimillion dollar Naval
ammunition depot in New Jersey. Hawthorne was chosen to take its place because of its arid
climate, its close proximity to the West Coast's Pacific Fleet, and its ability to expand if
Covering 237 square miles, the new Naval
Ammunition Depot (NAD) Hawthorne was commissioned on September 15, 1930 and provided storage
and service for ammunition until 1976 when its responsibilities were turned over to the U.S.
Functions involving underwater ordnance were excluded from the charter of the new Hawthorne
Army Ammunition Plant. NTS' parent command, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), was
charged with providing an organization to administer these functions. NAVSEA turned the job
over to NTS, which was the sole NAVSEA field activity in the Western U.S. to have an underwater
weapon and mine workload. NTS soon changed its name to Naval Undersea Warfare Engineering
Station to reflect its newly diversified mission.
Today, the Detachment handles the storage, maintenance, assembly, overhaul, and repair for
various mines and torpedo programs for the Fleet.
This is where it all began for the Southern California (SOCAL) Detachment-in an old gymnasium in downtown San Diego. The Detachment has grown since its humble beginning in 1976 and has moved to larger
Southern California Detachment
About the same time the Hawthorne Detachment was being welcomed into NUWES' fold, another
detachment was also being established. This one in San Diego, California.
In the early 1970's, the Station was sending engineers and technicians on temporary duty to a
centralized ASW testing program in Southern California to conduct Weapon System Accuracy
Trials and provide support to the Naval Electronics Laboratory
Center on San Clemente Island.
By 1974, four NUWES employees were permanently transferred to San Diego, making up a new
branch of the Station's Technical Operations Department. In 1975, NUWES was formally
designated as the ASW Test Agent for the Pacific.
In October 1976, this operation was established as the Southern California Detachment, a
division of the Proof, Test and Evaluation Department at Keyport. Located in a gymnasium at the
Navy Field Complex in San Diego, the staff consisted of engineers, technicians, and computer
From 1977 to 1982, the operation and maintenance of the Sensory Accuracy Check Site in Long
Beach was added to the Detachment's responsibilities.
In 1979, the Detachment moved out of the gymnasium and into its present facility on Balboa Avenue.
In 1982, the Detachment's San Clemente Island Underwater Range was certified for Fleet testing
training. Also in that year, the Detachment was elevated to the status of Department.
In its early days, SOCAL used this ring-like pier to check Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
systems on Navy ships.
The USS Nimitz (CVN-681 is guided into place alongside the pier at Indian Island in August
1988 as it prepares for a dependents day cruise which brought some 10,000 wives and
children of the crew to Indian Island. This was the first time an aircraft carrier had docked
at one of the newest and finest ordnance handling facilities in the nation.
Indian Island Detachment
The final detachment of NUWES is an ordnance operation at Indian Island, a lovely wildlife
refuge on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula.
The Island didn't become a part of NUWES until 1970, but its Naval history goes back to autumn
of 1939 when the nearby waters of Port Townsend Bay were used for nets to protect Fleet
anchorages in the event of war.
In 1941, it was commissioned U.S. Naval Net Depot and U.S. Naval Magazine, Indian Island.
Indian Island riggers load a standard missile onto a guided missile frigate at the Island's
Indian Island became part of NUWES in 1970 when NAD Bangor was decommissioned and its
functions and property were transferred to Keyport.
An ordnance handling pier, a segregation and renovation facility, and support buildings were
added to the Island.
Today, 120 civilian employees and 30 military members support the Detachment which has the
capability to receive, store, maintain, and issue various types of Naval ordnance. Explosive
ordnance and inert materials are received by commercial trucks from locations throughout the
U.S. Ordnance is also received from ships enroute to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and from
barge shipments to the Island.
Because the Island is a wildlife refuge, the Navy takes care of the wildlife populations. There
three known nesting sites for bald eagles and the majestic bird makes it presence known
particularly during the months of January, February, and March. Over 200 different species of
animals have migrated to the Island
including deer, fox, coyote, hawk, otter and raccoon.
The excellent care taken with the wildlife and its environment earned NUWES the Department of
Defense Natural Resources Award in 1983 and an honorable mention in 1987.
Not the Retiring Type:
The Story of Bryn Beorse
You wouldn't have known he was 80 by looking at him, but that was his age when he finally
retired from Keyport on December 22, 1976.
The slightly white-haired man who spoke with a bit of a Norwegian accent was well-thought-of
by his coworkers who would remember him as one who had the incredible ability and initiative
to pursue more than a dozen different fields of study in his lifetime.
Born in Norway in 1896, Bryn earned his masters degree in civil engineering there. Before
coming to the U.S. in 1938, he traveled to more than 65 different countries and worked all over
Bryn was a pioneer in the field of thermal energy, with ideas thought to be ahead of his time.
Preferring thermal to atomic, he believed that a system of thermal energy plants in the earth's
warm oceans could provide 200 times as much energy as needed in this country.
Before coming to Keyport in 1961, he worked at the University of California, Boeing, and North
He was 65 when he first passed through the Station's gates, an age at which most have already
retired. Bryn believed that age had nothing to do with limitation, "when you run into a barrier
one place, then you should look elsewhere," he said.
Bryn spent 15 years as an engineer in the Quality Assurance Program. He enjoyed his work at
Keyport because he held an appreciation for U.S. weapons and the role they played in World War
At the age of 80, Bryn was faced with a mandatory retirement regulation by which he abided
with some regret, but with even more hope for a new career field to pursue.
As he left Keyport, he affirmed that keeping active would keep him young. "I don't think long
is a sign of a man being very wise. But keeping the mind bubbling with ideas all the time helps a man to live fully."
Eighty-year-old Bryn Boerse is surrounded by well-wishers as he retires from NTS in 1976.
From left, Howard Hendrickson, Boerse, John Grobler, Don Danielson.
Range and Service Craft at NUWES
NUWES has twenty range and service craft assigned. Construction began on four new boats,
designated YTT's, in 1988.
The queen of the fleet is the USNV New Bedford
(IX-308). She was built in Whitestone, N.Y. in 1945 by Wheeler Shipbuilding Company.
Originally built for the Army and designated FS-289, she was transferred to the Navy in 1950,
and designated as USS New Bedford (AKL-17). The ship was subsequently converted for torpedo
testing, redesignated as the IX-308, and assigned Service Craft status (in-service active). Her
claim to fame was being the set for the 1955 movie "Mr. Roberts" starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney and Jack Lemmon. The IX-308 is 176 ft., 6 in., long; has a beam of 32 ft., 6 in.; and a draft of lift.
The Cover Lighter (Self-Propelled) YF-451 was built by the Balsalt Rock Company at Napa, Calif. and accepted by the Navy in 1944. The ship was transferred to NUWES in 1951 and at that time converted by the Lake Union Drydock Company for torpedo testing. She was redesignated at that time as a Covered Lighter (Range Tender), YFRT-451, and assigned in-service active Service Craft status. She is 133 ft., 7 in. long; has a beam of 30 ft., 8 in.; and a draft of 9 ft.
The Covered Lighter (Range Tender) YF-520 was built by the Erie Concrete and Supply
Company, Erie, Pa., in March 1943. She was assigned to NUWES in
1954 and is used for torpedo testing. She is 134 ft., 10 in., long; has a beam of 330 ft., 9 in.; and a draft of 10 ft.
The Covered Lighter (Self-Propelled) YF-885 was built by the Defoe Shipbuilding Company at
Bay City, Mich. She was launched on May 19, 1945 and accepted by the Navy on July 24, 1945.
After service at various west coast Naval activities, she was deactivated on April 13, 1950 at
Pier 91, Naval Supply Center, Seattle. She was reactivated and assigned in-service active
Service Craft status on August 15, 1950 and transferred to the U.S. Naval Ammunition Depot,
Bangor for service as an ammunition lighter. On April 4, 1960, the vessel was transferred to
Keyport and designated an Underwater Weapons Recovery Craft. In 1965 she was named
USNV Keyport. She is 132 ft. long; has a beam of 30 ft., 6 in.; and a draft of 8 ft., 6 in.
Other vessels assigned to NUWES are:
Universal Range Support Boats (URSUB) 12 & 18|
Target Catamaran (GR-711)|
Torpedo Boat Retrievers (TRB) 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 36, & 37|
Torpedo Retriever (TWR-822) Guard/Rescue Boat (NS-42)|
Research Vessel (NS-93)|
Guard Boat (NS-16)|