New Bahrain barracks to save millions spent on off-base housing
By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 29, 2016
MANAMA, Bahrain — Naval Support Activity Bahrain officially opened new barracks on Thursday that could save up to a million dollars a month currently being spent on off-base housing.
The Navy decided to build Warrior Hall, which will house mainly junior enlisted personnel, after increased operational demand in recent years led to significantly more U.S. personnel being stationed in Bahrain. Most personnel in Bahrain live off base and receive an overseas housing allowance.
The base’s old barracks, currently at full capacity, house 800 junior enlisted personnel.
Warrior Hall can accommodate about 450 personnel and is designed chiefly for E-4s, but may house some E-3s, if there is sufficient space.
Based on the overseas housing and utilities allowances for sailors in the E4 or lower pay grades, housing 450 enlisted in the new barracks could amount to savings of about $940,000 per month.
Junior personnel arriving in Bahrain are expected to move directly into on-base housing if space is available. This will cut down on temporary lodging allowance and per diem costs. Officials estimate the cost of new barracks will be recouped in about four to six years.
NSA Bahrain commander Capt. Cory Howes played up the security offered by the new facility rather than the cost savings.
“I’ll talk about cost in one breath,” Howes said. “The big benefit I mostly talk about is it improves the safety and security of our junior sailors.”
Though Bahrain is a great host nation with excellent off-base accommodations, Howes said, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John M. Richardson wants his E-4 and below on base for several reasons, including access to facilities they require. It also reduces destructive behavior, Howes said.
The new barracks meets the CNO’s standards for E-4 housing, NSA Bahrain public affairs said. Each servicemember will have a private room in a 153-square-foot suite and share a connected bathroom and kitchenette with one other person. Amenities include internet, storage space, individual refrigerators, hot plates and other appliances. The building also has 42 washing machines, 84 dryers, an indoor community space and an outdoor grilling facility.
The barracks will also have resident advisers to help ensure the sailors’ standard of living and appropriate behavior, Howes said. The advisers, who will primarily be E-6s, will have their own suite with the second room serving as a living room/office space.
To meet the Navy’s energy initiatives, the barracks have solar water heaters and motion-sensor lighting.
The first group of residents moved in Thursday and the base hopes to reach capacity by January.
“I’m excited, these rooms are nice,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Preston McDowell, one of more than 100 E4s who are moving from the old barracks to Warrior Hall. “These are definitely an upgrade from the old barracks.”
The opening of the barracks, originally slated for January 2015, was delayed because of required redesign of the irrigation and climate-control systems, NSA Bahrain public affairs said. Still, the building was about $500,000 under budget, costing an estimated $44.6 million, base public affairs officials said.
Warrior Hall is one of several construction projects aimed at bringing more support, accommodations and services closer to the NSA Bahrain II waterfront, which has seen a lot of the base’s mission growth in recent years, Howes said.
Other construction projects along the waterfront include new transient quarters and a galley. A brand new 5,600-square-foot Navy Exchange is also being planned for NSA II.
“A sailor comes off a ship, now its a five-minute walk to his room,” Howes said of the new barracks.