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Naval Magazine Indian Island's past and present

More than 80 years of providing conventional ordnance support to the U.S. Navy fleet while emphasizing accuracy, safety and efficiency.

Naval Magazine Indian Island is the U.S. Navy’s only deep-water ammunition port on the West Coast with a pier that can support the largest Navy and commercial vessels afloat. The installation is also one of the Department of Defense’s largest ordnance storage sites on the West Coast with magazines that store conventional munitions ranging from small arms ammunition to aircraft ordnance to ship-launched missiles.

The installation's mission is to provide ordnance logistics support to the Navy, Joint military services and allied nations during times of peace and war. 

An average of 50 vessels stop at the island each year, including aircraft carriers, guided-missile destroyers, guided-missile submarines, ammo ships, U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats, Military Sealift Command vessels, and commercial barges and container ships.

The 2,700-acre island hosts a wealth of cultural and natural resources, including several Native-American archeological sites, historical pioneer homestead sites and WWII-era buildings. The island is also home to a wide diversity of wildlife species, including 10 established bald eagles nesting sites, several hundred deer, coyotes, otters, and an occasional cougar.

The island is home to the Department of Defense's largest container crane, which is nicknamed "Big Blue" for the pastel blue coat of paint on its exterior that makes it a visible structure for miles around the installation. 

The federal government purchased the land on Indian Island in 1939 and established Naval Magazine Indian Island and Net Depot on May 10, 1941, seven months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7.

During WWII, Indian Island’s personnel worked around the clock to load Navy ships with munitions, assemble mines and manufacture the giant anti-submarine nets that protected Puget Sound waterways from penetration by enemy vessels. At the height of the war, more than 350 military personnel and 200 civilians worked on the island to load vessels seven days a week, sometimes loading two ships a day. 

When work levels dropped off after the end of the Korean War, the island was placed in a reduced operating status in 1959. After construction of the Trident Submarine Base at Bangor, the Navy's conventional munitions storage and handling facilities mission shifted back to Indian Island with completion of a new Ammunition Wharf in 1978.

Today, approximately 160 civilian and military personnel report to work on the island everyday. 

Naval Magazine Indian Island is an award-winning installation that has been recognized for its safety and environmental programs.
  • Secretary of the Navy Environmental Award- sustainability category for small non-industrial installations (2019)
  • Commander, Navy Installations Command Installation Excellence Award - small installation category (2020)
  • Chief of Naval Operations Shore Safety Award - small industrial installation (2018 and 2017)


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