Naval Air Station Whidbey Island once again tops the list for the Navy’s Installation Excellence Award.
For the second time in three years NAS Whidbey has been voted the best large installation base by Navy Installations Command, which is responsible for Navy facilities worldwide.
The annual Installation Excellence Awards compares how well Navy bases are operated and maintained.
A formal ceremony will be scheduled at a later date.
NAS Whidbey will receive $224,000 for getting the top award, money that can go toward family events, such as bringing in concerts, movies and enhancing base activities of its family programs.
Unit morale, quality of life for junior enlisted sailors, property management, health, safety and environmental conservation are criteria for the award.
NAS Whidbey Island Commanding Officer Geoff Moore called the award a welcome surprise.
“This was truly unexpected and we are extremely appreciative of the recognition,” he said in a press statement. “Each year we simply try to be better than the last, and with great support from both our tenants and our region staff we were able to sustain excellence.
“Equally, this is an extremely important recognition for our community who do a tremendous job supporting our sailors and families.”
Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns returned the compliment.
“When I throw out the first pitch for Little League or whether we’re planting a tree, you name it, NAS Whidbey is there with spouses and kids,” Severns said. “It’s not just city partners but a real neighborhood partnership.”
Hearing his neighborhood base once again is considered the best large base in the world didn’t surprise the mayor.
“Since I’ve been on city council and now as mayor, they have always been one of the bases being considered,” he said.
He cited strong “skippers at the top” for maintaining standards of excellence.
Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson commended the base for being an outstanding role model.
“Team Whidbey has set the standard for excellence,” she said. “We are fortunate to have such good neighbors who raise the bar for us all.”
The top citation also indicates NAS Whidbey has been successful at reaching and maintaining goals, said Mike Nortier, commanding officer when the base won the 2016 Large Installation Award.
“The recognition is truly a reflection of the talent all across the base and captures what those who have been stationed here all know – this is the best base in the Navy,” said Nortier, now executive director at Island Transit.
NAS Whidbey Island’s role in advancing technology and maintaining national defense mission-critical operations is also considered during the selection process, said Mike Welding, public information officer.
He cited continually improving teamwork, “being brilliant-at-the-basics” and being compliant with program requirements as examples.
“The Installation-of-the-Year recognition shows that we have been successful at those objectives which certainly contribute to raising and maintaining high morale as it shows the base is committed to enhancing the quality of life,” Welding said.
The base is now under consideration at the Department of Defense level for the Commander-in-Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence, an award it also won in 2016.
The Installation Excellence Award program recognizes the Navy’s top three large and small installations. In second place is Naval Base Coronado while Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka earned third place.
Small Installation awards went to Naval Air Station Whiting Field (first), Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg (second) and Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands.
Navy Installations Command includes worldwide naval port operations, weapons storage, real estate, housing and childcare. It includes more than 50,000 sailors and civilian employees at 70 bases in 11 regions worldwide.