Silverdale, Washington. Two 2014 Naval Intermediate Maintenance Facility (NAVIMFAC) Pacific Northwest (PACNORWEST) Sailors of the Year (SOYs) were recognized by the Navy League of the United States (NLUS) Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council during a packed April 14th luncheon held at the Bangor Plaza on Naval Station Kitsap–Bangor. The luncheon was held jointly with the Pacific Northwest Council of the Naval Submarine League, and had over 85 members of both organizations in attendance. One of the missions of the NLUS is to support the men and women of the sea services and their families.
Each awardee was presented a soaring eagle statuette engraved with their names by Council Vice President, Kevin Torcolini. Senior Navy leaders from NAVIMFAC PACNORWEST were present to honor the 2014 stand-outs for their hard work and individual efforts, including the facility’s Commanding Officer, Captain James Jones, and Captain Stephen Williamson, Commander, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF), who was also the guest speaker.
Adding extra excitement to the luncheon, Read Admiral (select) Williamson found-out just before the official program began that he had been chosen for his first star. The two hosting organizations were among the first to congratulate him on his selection to flag rank. According to their web site, PSNS & IMF is focused on providing customers with quality, timely and cost efficient maintenance, modernization, and technical and logistics support. They have sites in Bremerton, Bangor, Everett, San Diego, Boston, Japan and wherever its workers travel to repair ships. The main Bremerton, WA shipyard site is the Pacific Northwest’s largest Naval shore facility and one of Washington State’s largest industrial installations. NAVIMFAC PACNORWEST, first known as TRIDENT Refit Facility (TRF), Bangor, was established on July 31, 1981 as the primary maintenance facility for the Pacific TRIDENT Submarine Fleet. In 1998, TRF consolidated with Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activities (SIMAs) at Everett and Bremerton to become NAVIMFAC PACNORWEST.
The 2014 IMF SOY is Navy Diver First Class (Diving Salvage Warfare Specialist (DSWS)) Jeremy Kilchenstein, from Baltimore, MD. According to his citation, ND1(DSWS) Kilchenstein’s extensive diving knowledge, leadership abilities, and complete commitment to excellence make him a highly valued member of NAVIMFAC PACNORWEST. He led 19 people in the completion of the Naval Sea Systems Command 2014 Diving Operational Readiness Assessment, which resulted in above average scores. As Production Officer, he was responsible for the management, scheduling and execution of 183 critical jobs on eight Trident Class submarines, plus regional diving missions in support of the Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Intermediate Maintenance Facility, and Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.
NAVIMFAC PACNORWEST Command Master Chief, CMDCM(SS) Paul Coffin, pointed out that both the 2014 SOY and Junior SOY are Navy divers. “It speaks volumes for what they do out there for the Command and the ships. Both of them set the standard in the examples of what to do.” “Young Petty Oficer Kilchenstein runs the Dive Locker. When I call over there trying to get hold of the Department Chief [Petty Officer], I get him instead. He kicks the Chief out of the shop and runs it with little supervision as the go-to guy whenever we need anything. He also sets the example in physical fitness; he is an avid mountaineer and is willing to take-aboard anyone who is willing to try it.” Kilchenstein later thanked the crowd for the recognition, “I seldom get to do anything like this and I’m very thankful for the opportunity. It’s an honor to be up here.”
The Junior SOY is Navy Diver Second Class Nelson Oelker, from Aurora, IL. According to his citation, ND2 Oelker accrued 85 hours of bottom time while performing critical repairs to eight Trident Class submarines. He expertly managed the Dive Locker’s inventory of critical diver life support equipment valued at $300,000, which resulted in above average scores and no discrepancies found during the 2014 Naval Sea Systems Command Diving Operational Readiness Assessment.
As a key diver for a special project at the Dalles Hydroelectric Dam, he utilized Broco® underwater cutting techniques to remove derelict sensory equipment from the dam powerhouse. His efforts saved the Army Corps of Engineers $10,000 in contractor costs.
Coffin further praised Oelker by emphasizing, “This is Petty Officer Oelker’s first command in the Navy, and has only been in the Navy for three and one-half years. He has already qualified everything he can qualify, and set the track record for the time it took him to complete them. He will leave us soon and transfer to the East Coast to teach at Submarine School, training the next generation of superstars.” Oelker was quick to recognize his leadership for the mentorship. “I just want to thank them for showing me the right way to get things done and how to be a good member of the team.”
The U.S. Navy established SOY and JSOY programs to recognize superior performance of petty officers with emphasis on outstanding achievements, exemplary personal conduct and military bearing, and demonstrated initiative in performance. The recognition program starts at the unit level (ship, shore command, aviation squadron, etc.). Each winner then competes at the next higher organizational level until one Navy-wide SOY is selected for each of four areas: Pacific Fleet, Atlantic Fleet, Reserve Force, and Shore Support Commands.