The United States Navy has been operating regularly in Pacific Northwest waterways since 1841.
The Navy, Marine Corps, and Revenue Marine (forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard), explored, charted, and protected the area during the mid-nineteenth century. Ships and cutters worked to keep the peace between natives and settlers, and helped negotiate boundary disputes over the San Juan Islands. When the U.S. purchased Alaska in 1867, the sea services began patrols to regulate fishing and sealing, assist mariners in distress, and establish forward presence in the Last Frontier. Bases and a shipyard were operating in Puget Sound by the 1890s, and on May 7, 1903, the Thirteenth Naval District was established in Seattle.
Through World Wars, natural disasters, and incredible changes in the population and economy of the area, the Navy remained a steadfast presence, providing defense, security, and stability. Even in the inland States of the Region, Navy Reserve and Training centers gave testament to the fact that the Northwest, like all of America, was dependent on Sea Power.
The Thirteenth Naval District was renamed Naval Base Seattle in 1980, and subsequently renamed Navy Region Northwest in 1999. In 2004 and 2005, the Region Headquarters moved from Seattle to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, in Silverdale, Washington.
Today, Commander, Navy Region Northwest provides consolidated base operations support for Navy activities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa. The Commander oversees the assigned shore organization and provides facilities and space management, exercise coordination, and support to homeported and transient ships, submarines, and aircraft as well as afloat and ashore tenants, military and family members.
Puget Sound is the U. S. Navy’s third largest fleet concentration area. The major Northwest installations are Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Naval Station Everett, Naval Base Kitsap and Naval Magazine Indian Island. The Navy infuses more than $5 billion annually into the local Northwest economy, and the region is home to approximately 23,293 active duty service members, 3,600 reservists, 21,624 civilian employees, 2,349 contractors, 42,000 family members, and 99,191 retirees.