MANAMA, Bahrain — The Defense Logistics Agency has moved its operation here from the U.S. Navy base to a new, expanded off-base facility in response to the growing demand for supplies to U.S. military forces in the region.
The new 297,000-square-foot distribution center, located in an industrial area of the town of Hidd, is more than 10 times the size of the old one, encompassing five warehouses. It provides the DLA with much-needed expansion room that Naval Support Activity Bahrain simply could not provide within its fence-line, officials said.
The old facility, which measured a mere 27,000 square feet, was described by several DLA employees as bursting at the seams with the steadily growing demand for services. Last fiscal year DLA here processed 1,146 tons of cargo; so far this year, it has processed 919 tons.
“This gave us the opportunity to spread out,” said Cmdr. Julie Hunter, commander of DLA Distribution Bahrain, adding that the new location has better access to where container ships arrive, the airport, and where the bigger U.S. Navy warships that visit Bahrain moor. “We are really positioned well for traffic in and out of the area, and you don’t get that at NSA,” Hunter said.
Jerry Brown, deputy commander of DLA Distribution Bahrain, cited more space to move things around and the ability to bring ocean containers straight to the facility as examples of the added capability gained.
DLA does not directly own or operate the new facility. Instead, it has a five-year, full-service contract worth some $40 million with GENCO, a U.S. logistics company, to run the distribution center in this tiny island nation in the Persian Gulf.
Most of the five warehouses are currently empty, but officials say that is about to change as plans are underway to stock more parts for ships, aircraft and equipment.
“The goal is to have what the customer needs when they need it,” Hunter said. “By positioning the material we have forward, we cut down on the timeline for delivery and we also reduce the cost of transportation, saving the government money,” she said.
For shipboard sailors in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility, this potentially means getting repair parts more quickly.
“In many cases that may be the difference between repairing a ship overnight versus in a week,” Hunter said.
The enlarged facility is the latest signal of U.S. commitment to Bahrain, which has been shaken by sporadic political unrest since 2011, when the country experienced massive protests by citizens demanding political and economic reforms.
Officials say they anticipate the U.S. military presence here to continue well into the future. The Navy base here, which now occupies about 137 acres, has about 8,000 U.S. personnel and families, with several construction projects underway to increase capacity to potentially homeport littoral combat ships in 2018.