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Submarine base barracks reopens after $13.7M renovation

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Toledo arrives at Naval Submarine Base New London, Connecticut, Jan. 20, 2011, after a scheduled deployment.

GROTON, Conn. — Government officials, military officers and builders gathered Friday to reopen the 460-bed, $13.7 million renovated barracks at Fulton Hall at the Naval Submarine Base New London, Connecticut.

The 1993 hall became leaky, moldy and a “little dilapidated” as sailors quickly rotated in and out of dorm rooms during the previous two decades. The renovated building includes new wood paneling on the first floor, elevators, bathrooms and an energy-efficient variable refrigerant flow heating and cooling system that can heat one room and cool another at the same time.

“I like it … minus the bathroom situation,” said Seaman Christopher Schuy.

Schuy won’t be moving into the renovated barracks in the coming weeks but he was there to admire the facility Friday morning. He lives in barracks 492 in Groton and said the Fulton Hall barracks have better lighting, carpeting and are cleaner.

There are two twin beds per room and two rooms, or four people, share one bathroom. Schuy said in his barracks there are three people in a room who share one bathroom.

The ribbon cutting was Friday in honor of the building’s namesake, the USS Fulton (AS-1), which was launched 100 years ago. Those in attendance also reflected on D-Day, the day Allied troops invaded Normandy, France, which marked the beginning of the end of World War II.

“This ribbon cutting may seem distant, unglamorous, small but it is part of a continuum just as the great Navy men and women today are part of a long line of service and sacrifice,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. … “We have our freedoms today because of each of them, just as each brick in this building makes the whole of it.”

Blumenthal said he had seen the barracks at Fulton Hall about three years ago and that the transformation was “remarkable.”

“It’s much lighter and more attractive,” he said.

Michael Gawendo, project manager for Nutmeg Companies, Inc., said there were some leaks throughout the building and mold issues in the building when they arrived about 16 months ago.

“We basically ripped it down to the outside walls and rebuilt it from a new roof to the 230 rooms,” he said.

Submarine base commander Capt. Carl A. Lahti said there aren’t leaky windows anymore, which improves the energy efficiency of the building. The building also has lights that don’t turn on until someone walks into a room and the high-tech heating and cooling system that is controlled by a touch screen.

“I can walk down the hall and push a touch screen and change the temperature of every room in the entire building,” Lahti said.

The investment in Fulton Hall along with a $15 million investment in the commissary for the sub base are proof of the base’s value, officials said.

“For anyone who doubts the importance of this base and its continuing service to our nation, they should know that we are continuing to invest here,” Blumenthal said. “That the United States is committed to this base and there is no better evidence of it than the great work done on this renovated building.”

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