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Happy birthday, Naval Base Kitsap!

Capt. Douglass Biesel, commanding officer of Naval Base Kitsap, can hardly believe it’s already been a year.

It was June 4, 2004 that then-Bremerton Naval Station and Naval Submarine Base Bangor consolidated to form Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) — which also acts as the “landlord” to Keyport.

Biesel refers to the consolidation of the bases as “infrastructure support for all tenant commands.” One example of that support is the operation of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard since the consolidation.

“The shipyard no longer has to worry about all aspects of infrastructure support,” Biesel said. “It allows the commander to focus on repair and overhaul of ships.”

He calls the consolidation a shift from base centric philosophy from when the bases were formed.

“The shipyard was here before the town,” Biesel said. “Bangor was put into place in the mid-’70s. There wasn’t anything up there. The base became the city. Every aspect of support was in the base.”

The consolidation of Naval Base Kitsap also was made to save taxpayers’ resources, according to Biesel.

The two phases of NBK help to tell the story of the past year.

Phase One

The first phase of NBK was the disestablishment of Naval Submarine Base Bangor and Naval Station Bremerton, according to Biesel. Instead of being two separate bases they are now one. To help save taxpayers’ money there was a reduction of civilian billets. Most civilians had already been regionalized — nobody lost their jobs — which was positive, Biesel said. He added that civilian reduction resulted in initial savings.

But that was just phase one.

“The real savings behind Naval Base Kitsap is phase two,” he said.

Phase Two

The second phase of NBK looks at the landscape of the base and the huge amount of dilapidated buildings. Those buildings will be demolished to save taxpayers money. It’s what Biesel calls “infrastructure reduction.”

“We’re looking at the reduction of leased buildings,” he said.

Because of force protection requirements “it’s significantly more difficult to lease buildings that don’t meet requirements,” he said.

Also part of phase two is the movement of Engineering Field Activity from offices in Poulsbo onto the base. That move recently began in April and will save more than $850,000 in lease and janitorial maintenance costs, according to Biesel.

“We did a study of administrative spaces and there was 12 percent excess capacity, half was at Bremerton,” he said.

In all there are about 88 total buildings throughout Naval Base Kitsap that are on the demolish list. Infrastructure reduction will result in millions of dollars in savings, he said.

He expects phase two to take about five years to complete.

“There’s a lot of change, it’s good, it will make us more efficient,” Biesel said. “The process has gone very well, I give a lot of credit to my sailors. They’re used to change ... . We’ve been able to gain a lot synergy and energy to flow resources. I thank the staff of commander, Navy Region Northwest.”

The Future of NBK

“At this point we’re more in the execution process of Naval Base Kitsap phase two,” he said.

He added that big changes in the future include introduction of additional submarines. The USS Maine and USS Louisiana, both Trident-class submarines, are due later this year from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. The USS Jimmy Carter, a Seawolf-class submarine, is due to arrive in November. The USS Ohio and USS Michigan are expected to return to Bangor after their refueling and conversion from SSBNs to SSGNs. The USS Ohio is expected to be completed in 2007, the USS Michigan in 2008.

“These are the known infrastructure additions, that is a big challenge,” Biesel said.

As for the proposals made by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), Biesel says the changes at NBK will be visibly minor. He said there will be “changes here in the supply system and significant stream lining in the supply area.”

Also upcoming is a change of command in August. Biesel is transferring to the Pentagon and Capt. Reid Tanaka, who is currently assigned to the Pentagon, will assume the duties as NBK commander.

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