Base consolidation paying dividends

The recent consolidation of naval installations in Keyport, Bremerton and Bangor under a single umbrella is creating some exciting possibilities, according to proponents.

“This will result in an increased coordination and partnership between the Navy and the community,” said Capt. Douglass Biesel after making a presentation to the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners. “They will team up to provide services that were normally offered by the government alone.”

Such services cover housing, youth and employment areas.

The new entity, called Navy Base Kitsap, follows a pattern of “regionalization” that makes the military more efficient, according to Biesel, who is now the senior commanding officer for the new base.

“Anyone who was in the Navy before 1998 has no idea what it’s like today,” Biesel said. “Previously, bases were like ships. Each one was self-contained. In many cases, there was a dual chain of command, resulting in redundancy and a lack of focus.”

To use a local example, the commander of the shipyard can focus on his facility’s prime directive and not get bogged down in redundant administrative tasks.

Biesel also unveiled the newly designed Naval Base Kitsap insignia, which he said was carefully designed.

It contains two stars — for Bangor and Bremerton — along with a trident to represent the submarine atop a representation of the Olympic Mountains. An eagle clutching an olive branch is the final visual element.

Will Lent, a retired submarine commander who is heading the county’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) efforts, said the voluntary realignment is an example of smart management.

“It conserves manpower and saves money,” Lent said. “It’s the kind of thing the BRAC 2005 would be doing anyway. It’s smart strategy to run ahead of the curve.”

Lent characterized the move as “allowing one organization to be the ‘janitor’ for everyone else, performing all the needed service.”

He added the public would not perceive any change, while those in the Navy would follow a slightly different chain of command.

Biesel, who first came to the region in 1990, said it has many unique aspects, as military bases go. The eastern view from Keyport is astounding, while much of Bangor resembles a national park.

“Our biggest challenge in this venture is to put it in the context of the region,” Biesel said.

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