Work in progress to upgrade facilities at Navy base in Bahrain
By HENDRICK SIMOES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 11, 2014
MANAMA, Bahrain — Renovations are underway to modernize some of the recreational and dining facilities at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, which have stretched thin by the expanding base population.
The main focus of the improvements is a two-story building known as P-9-11. Completed in 2006 at a cost of $24 million, it houses the Navy Exchange, food court, gym and other recreational services.
One top priority is renovation of the Beach Club, which serves junior enlisted servicemembers. The aim is to create a rival to what servicemembers might find at off-base venues.
“We’re going to freshen it up; it’s a bit stale right now,” Capt. David Meron, base commander, told Stars and Stripes.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation anticipates spending about $450,000 to replace the club’s floor, to create a new DJ setup and to install new sound and lighting equipment.
“If you look at it now, it’s sterile, it’s uninviting, it’s not a club,” said Mark Richards, base MWR director.
There are also plans to renovate the kitchen in P-9-11, to expand the barber and beauty shop, and to increase the floor space on the Navy Exchange’s first floor, where groceries and household goods are sold.
The kitchen, which currently serves about 5,500 meals a day, has trouble accommodating diners during aircraft carrier visits. The barber and beauty shop has also been pushed to capacity — because of both the bigger base population and increased demand for spa services, said Patrina Jordan, Bahrain NEX general manager.
Officials hope to introduce upscale pizza and Panera Bread-style menu options at P-9-11.
Elsewhere on base, MWR has finished refurbishing the bowling alley and is currently renovating the base training pool. It also plans to improve the Liberty Center and to renovate the base playground.
Officials expect the U.S. military presence in Bahrain to continue well into the future. The Navy base, which now occupies about 137 acres, is in the midst of a $260 million expansion to increase capacity to allow for the possible homeporting of littoral combat ships in 2018. This spring, two more U.S. Coastal Patrol ships are expected to homeport at the U.S. naval base in Bahrain.