Northwest Navigator: News and Information from Navy Region Northwest in Washington State's Puget Sound, including Bremerton, Kitsap County, Oak Harbor, and Everett

Port ops’ only civilian keeps things moving

Photo by JO2 Travis Lee Clark
Port operations' Outboard Shop work leader Gary Rogers fixes an outboard engine on one of the 14 service craft he's responsible for. Rogers is the only civilian in port ops, but an essential part of the department as the expert on engine and boat maintenance and repair.

He’s an integral part of Naval Station Everett’s security, but this port operations employee doesn’t wear a blue shirt or khakis. In fact, he’s not even in the Navy.

Meet Gary Rogers, port ops’ outboard shop work leader and the only civilian in an office stuffed with Sailors. Rogers is the department’s resident expert on all of the outboard engines used in port ops and a vital asset to the base, according to Chief Operations Specialist(SW) Robert Born, port ops leading chief petty officer.

“Without Gary and his crew there’d be no way that our boats could provide the security that they do,” said Born.

That’s because Rogers receives in-depth training on the particular outboard engines of port ops that most Navy personnel don’t generally attend. Rogers, who estimates he’s had over 100 hours of instruction on these engines, takes the knowledge he gains and in turn, disseminates it throughout the department.

“He takes all the information that he learns and he spreads that throughout the entire engine shop for these guys so that everybody is running on the same sheet of music,” explained Born. “That gives us a higher level of versatility and makes us just that much more effective as a department.”

At any time on NAVSTA Everett there’s at least one of the station’s four security boats in the water - guaranteed. Rogers and his team make sure of that. In the entire time he’s worked at port ops, there’s never been a downtime with the security boats that’s resulted in a compromise of base security. He and the port ops crew have kept every single boat needed for daily operations in tiptop condition despite the engines’ intricacies and hundreds of moving parts.

But Rogers’ work in port ops doesn’t stop with outboard engines. The 56-year-old former Army radar technician lends a helping hand with maintaining just about every other part of the boats too. After spending 30 years as a commercial fisherman, port ops’ only civilian employee knows a thing or two about the importance of keeping a boat in good working condition.

“Working as a fisherman means you maintain your boat,” said Rogers. “When you’re up in Alaska and there aren’t places to go have it repaired, you need to keep that boat in repair or you’re not going to make a living,” he said. “That’s given me a very broad background on boat maintenance in general.”

Rogers’ extensive background helped him personally devise a planned maintenance schedule (PMS) system for each of the department’s 14 boats. Before Rogers’ PMS system went into effect, the boats were rarely hauled out of the water for maintenance. Also, by activating the warranty on the boats’ engines, he’s saved the Navy thousands of dollars and manhours in repair and parts costs.

Rogers even went as far as overhauling the port ops boat trailers, changing them from their original, salt-corroded drum brakes to newer disc brakes. As one port ops Sailor explained, “When you’ve got a trailer in excess of 8,000 pounds, you want some stopping power behind you.”

Engineman 1st Class(SW) James Miller, NAVSTA engine shop leading petty officer, couldn’t praise Rogers enough for his role in port ops.

“You couldn’t ask for a better working relationship between the Navy and the civilian side of the house,” he said. “He’s like a mentor. He has a lot of information and experience that some of us might not. He’s what, in the Navy, you’d call a true shipmate.”

In a work environment where the entire staff is replaced every few years, Miller said it was good to have someone who’s been there for a while to give the department history and stability.

“I’ve learned a lot from him, and I think when I’m gone and the next guys come in they’ll learn a lot from him too,” he said.

Rogers couldn’t be happier at having the opportunity to work with the Navy. His soldiering days may be over, but he still serves his country in his own unique way. 

“My work here has been both challenging and rewarding,” said Rogers. “Honestly I feel privileged to work with the Navy. There’s a war on and I feel very good about being able to do my part.”

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