Yokosuka shuffles beds for Homeport Ashore sailors
June 17, 2006
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Homeport Ashore sailors: Don’t buy that plasma-screen television just yet.
If you ship out for more than 30 days, your room and your TV might not be there when you come back as officials try to maximize numbers of “butts in the beds” in the program’s first phase.
“Right now, our policy is that we don’t have a policy, but we’re saying 30 days on the outset,” said Yokosuka Naval Base Command Master Chief William Holz. “If you’re going to be gone longer than 30 days, you may get bumped out.”
Yokosuka has 242 rooms for Homeport Ashore, an initiative aimed at moving an estimated 4,000 junior enlisted sailors out of ship berthing and into barracks while in port. The program’s initial phases use and convert existing barracks; future plans include building four new high-rise housing towers.
The first batch of Homeport Ashore sailors moved in last month. All are told “not to get too comfortable” while officials weigh the number of rooms versus the number of sailors under way at any given time.
The last thing anyone wants are rooms staying empty while sailors are at sea for months on end, Holz said.
“People don’t understand that the sailor lives in an industrial environment on the ship,” Holz said. “Improving this is our number one quality-of-life issue.”
Neither do they want sailors feeling that the base has a “rotating door policy” or saying that moving off the ship isn’t worth the hassle, Holz said.
Finding a happy medium will involve some “creativity,” Holz said, as similar programs in San Diego and Hawaii don’t exactly fit Yokosuka’s needs.
“Our ships are gone at different times. Some stay in port more, others go under way more often,” Holz said. “One size doesn’t fit all.”
Holz is drafting a memorandum of understanding between the base and the 11 commands utilizing the rooms — all fall under Destroyer Squadron 15, the USS Kitty Hawk Strike Group and the USS Blue Ridge, U.S. Seventh Fleet’s command ship.
When more rooms become available, they will likely stretch the deployment time to 60 days, Holz said.
“Once we get 1,000 beds, we may move to a 60-day policy,” Holz said. “But it’s hard to do with 250 rooms when you need 4,000.”