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Petty Officer 2nd Class Aquinor Hollingsworth plays with 1-year-old Corey Hollingsworth Jr. on the new playground equipment at Misawa Air Base's Davey Jones' Locker.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Aquinor Hollingsworth plays with 1-year-old Corey Hollingsworth Jr. on the new playground equipment at Misawa Air Base's Davey Jones' Locker. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

NAVAL AIR FACILITY MISAWA, Japan — In pirate speak, Davey Jones’ Locker is a fictional place at the bottom of the ocean, a watery grave for those who die at sea.

At Misawa, the Navy’s Davey Jones’ Locker is a popular spot for social gatherings such as birthday and going-away parties. The only “graves” near the grounds are make-believe, where sailors taking the leap to chief petty officer bury their white hats.

The Navy has recently given new life to the locker with a $160,000 investment in new playground equipment built on rubber matting soft enough for babies.

The old equipment was “starting to deteriorate and was posing a safety hazard to kids,” said Chief Petty Officer Ariel Genido, deputy resident officer in charge of construction for Navy Public Works.

The new playground includes slides, swings and a miniature climbing wall.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Aquinor Hollingsworth said her kids love the new setup.

“Before the playground was all rocky and dirty,” she said. “They would always get hurt. Now it’s all new and soft and babies can actually play out here.”

The jazzed up and safer playground is just the beginning. The Navy has plans to renovate the building, perhaps raise the floor inside, move a bathroom and enclose an open, outdoor area to add more space, Genido said. The cost and timeline of the project is still unknown since it’s still in design, he said.

Base residents say the locker is popular for social functions, but nobody seems to know how the facility got its name.

“In the Navy, I think it means something bad to go to ‘Davey Jones’ Locker,’” said Staff Sgt. Hector Rosa.

Though the locker belongs to the Navy, it can be reserved for functions by anyone stationed at Misawa — sailors, soldiers, Marines and airmen, Navy officials said.

The building can’t be used for fund-raisers or money-makers, such as Tupperware parties.

Reservations must be made one month in advance. Children may still use the playground while the building is in use but should check with those using the facility first, officials said.

To reserve Davey Jones’ Locker, call public works at DSN 226-3592.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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