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One of the 11 barracks at Chinhae Naval Base, South Korea, which won a Navy award.
One of the 11 barracks at Chinhae Naval Base, South Korea, which won a Navy award. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy)
One of the 11 barracks at Chinhae Naval Base, South Korea, which won a Navy award.
One of the 11 barracks at Chinhae Naval Base, South Korea, which won a Navy award. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy)
The kitchen/dining area in a barracks at Chinhae.
The kitchen/dining area in a barracks at Chinhae. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy)

TAEGU, South Korea — Seaman Apprentice Tasha Williams decided she was up for popcorn and a movie one recent Friday night at Chinhae Naval Base in South Korea.

So she headed for her favorite movie theater: her barracks.

There, in the blue-carpeted, fully furnished room she shares with another sailor, the Navy has provided Williams an entertainment system with DVD and CD player, VCR and television.

And that’s only a part of what awaited her when she arrived at Chinhae nine months ago, just out of training.

Her room also includes beds, curtains, a full-sized closet and kitchenette with a gas range and full-sized refrigerator. And there’s a bathroom she and her roommate share with the two sailors in the next room.

That Friday, Williams, a cook at the 90-acre logistics base, had a friend over, microwaved the popcorn and put “Bring It On” in the DVD player, all there in the Bachelor Quarters.

“I was shocked,” said Williams of the day she first saw her new quarters, “because, I mean, coming out of my training school, we didn’t have any of that. And I didn’t expect to have a DVD player, stereo system or anything. They provided a lot of stuff.”

That attention to quality in the barracks helped Chinhae Naval Base earn the Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Award for Excellence in Bachelor Housing Management — a five-star accreditation. Chinhae was one of 32 Zumwalt award winners worldwide.

A team of inspectors from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command rated the base’s 11 barracks for all ranks, according to a checklist that covers everything from cleanliness and maintenance to what services sailors are provided to bookkeeping and administration.

There’s no money with the award, just the distinction within the Navy and the pride for the winners.

“The benefit I see, is that it’s the motivation that the sailors get knowing they’re living in the highest standard of quality of bachelor quarters available,” said Cmdr. Jim Tranoris, commanding officer, Fleet Activities Chinhae, “and that we, the Navy, care about them and don’t spare anything to give them that quality of life.”

“What it tells people is that our staff is professional, that our standards are high and … that we care about the needs of our sailors.”

Senior Chief Petty Officer Rodencio Cacho, the base’s bachelor housing officer, said he believes Chinhae earned its award through daily commitment to caring for its barracks.

“We have a permanent party housekeeper that cleans the dryers, washers, make sure it’s all cleaned,” said Cacho. “Those are the daily things that we do to make sure the sailors are happy in the barracks. And if they have a problem in the room, we fix it right away,” he said. “We don’t want them to wait two days or three days.”

With 15 years in the Navy, Petty Officer 2nd Class Alverez Hemphill, a chaplain’s assistant, knows the importance of good living conditions for sailors’ morale.

“For the morale of the sailors, the quality of life … is probably one of the most important things besides the mission,” said Hemphill. “The better living conditions, the better morale will be.”

Williams said, “It makes it more comfortable for us. … It gives us more things to do and less time to worry about being away from home.”


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