Ammunition Depot Indian Island
Port Hadlock, Washington
A new command officially joined the four major US Navy installations of Navy Region Northwest during a brief ceremony 27 April 2000. The former Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Detachment Port Hadlock, officially became Naval Magazine Indian Island. The 2,716-acre facility now reports directly to the region commander rather than a series of others in the Southwest. The mission of providing ordnance-related support including receipt, storage, issuance, and inspection did not change, nor did the staffing of approximately 12 active duty members and 124 civil service and contract employees. Effective 01 October 1999, Naval Magazine [NAVMAG] Indian Island (formally known as Port Hadlock Weapons Detachment) had its support moved from the southwest region (Seal Beach) to the northwest region (Subase Bangor).
Ships at the Ammunition Pier are serviced by tugs from SUBASE Bangor for docking and undocking evolutions. The Longshoremen and Stevedore Unions have expressed interest in the work at Indian Island. The work at Indian Island is not inherently governmental. The type of cargo that is loaded/offloaded is primarily ammunition (e.g., bombs, bullets and missiles). A contractor would not be obligated to subcontract waterfront operations to the Longshoremen and Stevedore Unions.
Indian Island is located west of Marrowstone Island between the waters of Port Townsend and Kilisut Harbor. Indian Island is approximately 4.2 nmi long and oriented on a north-south axis between Marrowstone Island and the mainland of the Quimper Peninsula. The Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD) is located on the northwest side of Indian Island.
The Ammunition Pier is located on the extreme northwest part of the island at approximately 48°04'30"N 122°45'00"W. The Ammunition Pier is the primary maritime facility of NAD Indian Island. It is large enough to accommodate a Nimitz class aircraft carrier (1,040 ft long/91,487 to 96,358 tons). The pier is 1,500 ft (457 m) long, not counting tug berths on mooring floats on the south end of the pier. According to harbor pilots at Bremerton, the wooden pilings used in the construction of the pier would not support an aircraft carrier in an on-setting wind, so steel pilings 600 ft apart were installed. Because of the distance between the steel pilings, camels are now needed by moored ships to accommodate the pilings. A second, older pier is located on the west side of the island south of the ammunition pier, but a 200 ft section was lost in a severe wind storm. It has not been rebuilt and is now condemned. Alongside depths at the Ammunition Pier are 50 ft (15.2 m) or more. The depths increase rapidly away from the pier.
Two explosives anchorages are noted on DMAHTC Chart 18464, Port Townsend. One is a fair weather anchorage located on Port Townsend approximately 4,000 yd (3,658 m) northeast of the Ammunition Pier. The second is a foul weather anchorage located approximately 600 yd (549 m) south of the south end of the Ammunition Pier. United States Coast Pilot 7 mentions a "usual" anchorage of unspecified holding quality about 0.5 to 0.7 nmi south of the "railroad ferry terminal" at Port Townsend, on a muddy bottom in depths of 48 to 60 ft (14.6 to 18.3 m). The location would place the anchorage approximately 1.4 nmi north-northwest of the Ammunition Pier. The same document states that in southerly gales, better anchorage is afforded close inshore off the north end of Marrowstone Island or near the head of the bay on a muddy bottom in "moderate depths."
Because of its protected location on Port Townsend, wave motion is not a problem at the Ammunition Wharf. Waves in Admiralty Inlet just outside of Port Townsend can be a problem for inbound and outbound vessels during periods of strong northwesterly winds. Currents are not a significant problem at the Ammunition Wharf. Prevailing currents within Port Townsend north of the wharf are circular, and may set clockwise or counter-clockwise, depending on wind flow and the tide. SUBASE Bangor Harbor Pilots, who service ships at the wharf, state that ebb tides cause strong currents in Admiralty Inlet. Because of the relatively narrow entrance channel, ships destined for the Ammunition Wharf must keep at least 10 kt steerage way until well west of a line between Point Wilson and Marrowstone Point. A strong north-setting current passes west of Indian Island through Port Townsend Canal (between Indian Island and the mainland of the Quimper Peninsula) during an ebb tide, but it is largely diffused by the waters of Port Townsend before it reaches the Ammunition Wharf.
The primary hazard at the Ammunition Pier is strong southerly winds. The wind moves north around both sides of Indian Island, reaching the pier as south-southeasterly. Arriving ships normally approach the pier in a wide, counterclockwise turn, and moor starboard side to the pier. During strong southerly winds, the ships are forced off of the pier, making the approach through Port Townsend difficult. Ships may, of necessity, have to moor port side to the pier because of the off-setting effect of wind and the resultant difficult approach. SUBASE Bangor harbor pilots, who provide pilot services for ships arriving at or departing the pier, state that 25 to 30 kt is the maximum wind for safe docking of most vessels at the pier, but 20 kt is the limit for aircraft carriers.
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