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Sailors preparing to move into Naval Station Norfolk's newly renovated barracks

By COURTNEY MABEUS | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: December 27, 2017

NORFOLK, Va. (Tribune News Service) — Life is about to become a little more comfortable for some sailors assigned to Norfolk-based ships.

After about two years and $20 million, the first of four barracks that are being rehabbed, or scheduled for rehab, on Naval Station Norfolk is nearly ready for new inhabitants.

More than 2,200 sailors live in government barracks on the naval station, according to Richmond Rushing, the lead chief petty officer for the base’s unaccompanied housing department. When work on the three remaining buildings is complete, there will be beds for 3,949 sailors across the base’s 13 government barracks. A little more than 3,400 residents are assigned to privatized housing.

“The goal is for every sailor that lives on a ship to have a rack that they can go to when they’re in port,” Rushing said, referring to the Navy’s Homeport Ashore initiative.

A few days before Christmas, crews in hard hats painted the front of Schamberger Hall, named for Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Schamberger, a Navy SEAL who was killed in action during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983. Civilian employees and sailors were busy preparing for the hall’s 382 new residents, junior sailors who are scheduled to begin moving in Jan. 2.

The building, constructed in 1984, was gutted during the renovation, Rushing said. The rooms are small; about the size of a university dormitory room.

“It’s better than living on a ship,” Rushing said.

Each room has two twin beds, upgraded bathrooms and small kitchenettes, including a full-size refrigerator. Building upgrades include lounges with large flat-screen televisions, dozens of laundry machines, new furniture and 260 cameras throughout common areas for safety and deterrent, Rushing said.

A barracks being renovated next door, at $30 million, will offer a large communal kitchen, Rushing said.

He was unsure of the renovation costs for the other two barracks but said they should be completed in the next couple of years.

“It’s all about the sailors, taking care of the sailors,” said Janie English, a retired master chief who now works as the building complex manager.

©2017 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
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