NAVAL MAGAZINE INDIAN ISLAND — Cmdr. Rocky Pulley has stepped down as commanding officer of Naval Magazine Indian Island and welcomed incoming commanding officer Cmdr. Donald Emerson.
About 100 invited family and guests gathered to hear comments from guest speaker Rear Admiral Scott Gray, commander, Navy Region Northwest, on Friday.
Additionally, Captain Emile Moured, Jr. CHC, USN gave the invocation and benediction and the Navy Band Northwest provided musical interludes.
“It’s a sad day for us because we are losing Rocky,” said Admiral Gray. “But all sailors are trained from the very start to train your relief. Rocky’s done a superb job in doing that.”
While listing Pulley’s successes, Gray made special mention of his efforts to develop new relationships with the area civilian community.
“We can’t do this without our community partners, the City of Port Townsend, Jefferson County, the Port Gamble S’Klallam, Jamestown S’Klallam, the Lower Elwa and Suquamish tribes, and countless others,” he said.
”Thank you for your continued support of the base.”
Gray said that under Pulley’s leadership, Naval Magazine Indian Island (NavMag) had safely and efficiently handled more than 123,000 tons of ordinance without any significant problems and no injuries.
“The only near-death experience in Rocky’s time involved Rocky inside his truck with a critter,” Gray quipped.
Apparently, Pulley had a close encounter with a squirrel and since then, the staff has left stuffed squirrels around for him as a tease and reminder. One was at the ceremony tucked under the lectern.
Pulley was recognized by the President of the United States with a meritorious service medal and gold star that was presented by Gray.
Commander Pulley assumed his command of Naval Magazine Indian Island on June 29, 2017. His next assignment will be on the staff of Commander of Navy Region Northwest in Silverdale.
“As we transition, the Navy never sends away one great leader without bringing in another,” Gray said. “I’m happy to report that the Navy chose Don Emerson, an outstanding officer to be the next commander officer here at NavMag Indian Island.”
Emerson is an aviator, with more than 2,400 flight hours in fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.
“Although I have been here for only a short time, it’s obvious that everyone here cares deeply about this island, the people here and the mission,” Emerson said.”I look forward to working with the local community and strengthening the relationships even further.”
After the ceremony, Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson said Indian Island is an important partner for the city.
“This is a critically important position not only for us here, but for the state, nation and world,” Stinson said. “Having this level of official handover of authority is critically important.
“I’m happy to welcome incoming CO Emerson. He knows we have a new city manager coming and I’m looking forward to getting them together to understand the each other’s territory.”
County Commissioner Greg Brotherton said that he plans to continue to develop the county’s relationship with the Navy.
“Commander Pulley was one of the first partners that brought me in and showed me what their mission is here and how they interact with the community and how we can be collaborators,” Brotherton said. “He’s been a great partner with other stakeholders in the community. I look forward to more with Commander Emerson.
“I’m excited with the collaboration with the Navy. There’s a range of issues we need to discuss and being at the table with the Navy to discuss impacts and benefits is powerful.”
Sheriff Joe Nole said through Commander Pulley, sheriff’s deputies have been working drills with the military police.
“If something criminal were to happen here, we would be responding,” Nole said. “We’ve been working together, having them call JeffCom. We got to know Don and are hoping to continue our relationship with him. Indian Island is like its own little city in a way. Anything we can do to help them out in terms of law enforcement or anything they may need, we’re here to help.”
Naval Magazine Indian Island is the U.S. Navy’s only deep-water ammunition port and the Department of Defense’s largest ordinance storage site on the West Coast. It has more than 100 magazines that store conventional munitions ranging from small arms munitions to aircraft ordinance to ship-launched missiles.
An average of 50 vessels stop at the island each year.
The island was purchased in 1939 and Naval Magazine Indian Island and Net Depot was established on May 10, 1941, seven months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Jefferson County Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].