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Manchester Fuel Depot "Fuelies" Celebrate 75 Years

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS171205-18
Release Date: 12/5/2017 2:34:00 PM

By Brian J. Davis, NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound Corporate Communications

MANCHESTER, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Puget Sound and Naval Base Kitsap marked the 75th anniversary of Manchester Fuel Depot (MFD) in a small ceremony at the facility Dec. 1.

Manchester Fuel Depot, the largest single-site Department of Defense fuel terminal in the continental United States, was formally established in 1942 as U.S. Naval Fuel Depot, Puget Sound Washington. Now a part of Naval Base Kitsap, the Manchester Fuel Depot is managed and operated by the NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound Fuel Department.

Among the 155 guests attending the event were government officials and military leaders from around the Puget Sound area, including 20 crew members from the U. S. Coast Guard Heavy Icebreaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 10), in port at MFD receiving fuel. Also in the audience were current, former, and retired fuel technicians, or "fuelies" who worked at the facility during its 75 year history.

"Day in and day out, the people of Manchester Fuel Depot and NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound have been ensuring that our ships are ready to deploy... our aircraft have the fuel needed to fulfill their training and missions... and lending a hand to other military branches," said Capt. Edward "Alan" Schrader, Naval Base Kitsap Commanding Officer. Schrader provided opening remarks for the ceremony.

NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound Commanding Officer Phillippe Grandjean offered remarks and read a congratulatory message sent by the Honorable Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington. Grandjean also acknowledged the facility's long history of service and what is still yet to come.

"It's important to step back and look at our past accomplishments and all the people that made us successful. In a forward looking organization like ours it is also important to draw on the lessons of the past as we plan for the future," said Grandjean.

The keynote speaker for the event was Robert "Bob" Cairns, former Deputy Director of the Fuel Department. Cairns became an Air Force fuels officer in 1968 and retired from his position at MFD in 2014, working as a fuelie for over 45 years. Cairns shared stories of his time at Manchester Fuel Depot and the people that carried out the fuel depot's mission while carefully preserving the installation's environment.

"From its beginning, employees went the extra mile to preserve and protect its very scenic vistas, while accomplishing a very important mission. This facility has environmental treasures that are unequalled on any other installation of its size," said Cairns.

Glenn Schmitt, Deputy Director of the NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound Fuel Department, followed on the theme of looking to the future with a special announcement regarding a major military construction (MILCON) upgrade project planned for the fuel depot, the first public announcement for the project. According to Schmitt, for the fuel facility's next modernization project, underground fuel tanks will be replaced with above-ground, state of the art steel tanks. Planners expect to submit a package to Congress for project approval within the next year, with construction predicted to start in Oct. 2020.

"This project will allow us to better serve our customers, and it will be environmentally sound to meet our stewardship responsibilities here in the place where we live," said Schmitt as he gestured toward an artist's conception of the completed project, displayed near the speaker's podium.

The second surprise of the day came when it was time to cut the ceremonial cake. Lt. Cmdr. Scott McCarthy, NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound Fuel Director and Master of Ceremonies for the event, introduced Emilio Franco, a fuel engineer that worked at MFD from 1974 to 1991 and Ann Fickle, who, with her late husband Jack, lived on the fuel depot from 1959 to 1981. Jack was the facility's Guard Chief, and living in base quarters was a condition of employment at the time. Fickle and Franco, acknowledged as MFD's "most seasoned fuelies", walked to the stage and cut the cake with a ceremonial knife, appropriately fashioned from a fuel nozzle.

Manchester Fuel Depot is a key fuel asset for U.S. and allied forces operating in the Puget Sound region and the Pacific Rim, yet few in the area are truly aware of the scope of the work that the fuelies do.

"It's simply amazing to think about the systems you have perfected so that a small number of specialists can meet your vital mission in such an unobtrusive way that most people in Kitsap County aren't even aware of the work done here," said Schrader.

NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound provides operational logistics, business, and support services to Navy, Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, and other Joint and Allied Forces. Products and services include contracting, fuels, global logistics, hazardous material management, household goods, integrated logistics support, material management, postal, regional transportation and warehousing.

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