Indian Island like a ‘Walmart of naval operations,’ facility skipper says

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Naval Magazine Indian Island is safe, secure and enhances the economy and ecology of Jefferson County, the ammunition depot’s skipper told the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce this week.

“We have an important strategic mission over at Indian Island,” said Cmdr. Mike Yesunas, who took command in March. “It’s a safe and efficient operation, although we are constantly trying to improve our processes and make them better.”

About 35 people attended the chamber’s weekly luncheon Monday at the Port Townsend Elks Club.

As a munitions facility, the base provides ordnance and logistics in support of naval and joint military operations. The 4-square-mile base is not open to the public, and military personnel need special clearance to set foot on the base, although public tours are available.

Yesunas said the base has three missions: safety, accuracy and efficiency.

He compared the managing of ordnance with managing a big-box store.

“We are the Walmart of naval operations,” he said. “We have stuff coming in from various sources, and we put it where it needs to go in order to reach its destination.

“When it arrives, its use needs to be easily understood by the average 18-year-old soldier.”

The Navy is more environmentally conscious than in the past, Yesunas said.

“Our environmental record isn’t that good. We’ve made some mistakes, and we are still cleaning some of them up,” he said. “But I’m consistently impressed by the modern bases and the care they take to preserve the environment.”

One example was this summer’s use of goats to clear land and remove invasive plant species from the island.

The goats cleared 12 acres of scotch broom and left areas that looked as if they were carefully mowed, Yesunas said.

As an added bonus, the seeds that pass through a goat’s system are rendered inert, Yesunas said.

Yesunas said he is one of three military personnel on the base out of 135 people.

The rest are contractors.

The base contributes around $20 million annually to the area economy, including military salaries, civilian salaries and purchases of goods and services, Yesunas said.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 02. 2013 6:22PM
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