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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Be it ever so humble, U.S. sailors in Yokosuka need a place to call home, said Rear Adm. James D. Kelly, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan.

Then they might not stay out drinking all night to avoid the ships where they work and live.

Which, Kelly said, is why he’ll seek an estimated $115 million for Homeport Ashore, his plan to move 2,000 sea-command sailors out of ships’ berthing and into barracks at Yokosuka Naval Base.

This clearly will improve behavior, Kelly contended in an interview Wednesday. In a Thursday news release, he was quoted as stating, “I’m convinced that achieving Homeport Ashore in Yokosuka — particularly for our E-4 and below sailors — is critical to preventing liberty incidents that threaten to undermine our host-nation support.”

Now, sea-duty sailors ranked E-4 and below at Yokosuka live on their ships, staying in large (sometimes up to 200-person) berthing compartments where privacy is scarce.

Homeport Ashore shoots to have 100 percent of shore-duty and 95 percent of sea-duty sailors in bachelor enlisted quarters by 2015.

The short-term plan would get about 1,700 sailors off ships by 2007 by doubling and tripling room occupancy in existing barracks. Kelly said buying beds and wardrobes would cost $3.1 million.

He also said he’s considering other short-term solutions, such as housing chief petty officers and commissioned officers in the same building or getting a waiver to temporarily use one of the base’s high-rise family-housing towers as a bachelor enlisted quarters.

A space waiver also would be needed, Kelly said, because current regulations require 90 square feet per person and the temporary plan would trim that to 72 square feet per person.

He said he expects some resistance from shore-duty sailors who would have to share their rooms but he reminds them that they exist only to support the fleet.

“Some of the folks here have pretty nice arrangements and I’d be naive not to expect some” complaints, Kelly said. “But they need to realize that they’re all in this together.”

The long-term Homeport Ashore plan calls for building four new barracks: one eight-story and three 15-story buildings. Kelly said the $112 million for the long-term plan likely will be split between Military Construction and the Japanese Facilities Improvement Program.

Kelly said the chief of naval operations has given preliminary support for the plan and that securing funding is the biggest factor in establishing a time line.

“This will be the biggest improvement we’ve made for the good of the force in a long while,” he contended. “We can’t afford to do anything less.”

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