Workers renovated the Naval Support Activity Bahrain Child Development Center in May 2009 to prepare for the return of sailors' family members. (MC2 Stephen Murphy / Navy)
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A five-year, $580-million project will double the size of Naval Support Activity Bahrain. (NAVY)
Officials at Naval Support Activity Bahrain have begun a construction project that will more than double the base's size by 2015.
A five-year, $580-million project to expand the base — which hosts Naval Forces Central Command and 5th Fleet headquarters — began May 26 when U.S. and Bahraini officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony.
Navy operations at the Bahrain port of Mina Salman will be moved inside the perimeter of the new facility as part of the project, according to a Navy news release.
The expansion stems from a January 2008 agreement between the U.S. and Bahraini governments to provide the Navy with 70 acres along the waterfront. NSA Bahrain is a 62-acre facility, the largest Navy base in the Persian Gulf and a logistics hub for operations in Iraq.
The first phase of construction, targeted for completion by fall 2012, will include a new perimeter wall and security gate along with several new utility buildings.
The second phase will expand the port operations with a new harbor patrol facility and include a small-craft basin. That phase will begin later this year and is scheduled to be completed by late 2012.
New barracks, a dining facility, a recreation center and administrative buildings will be completed by 2015, Navy officials said.
The final phase will also include a flyover bridge connecting NSA Bahrain to the port facility.
The Navy facilities in Bahrain began expanding in 2003 after the Iraq invasion. A large food court and Navy exchange opened in 2006.
The installation houses more than 3,500 sailors and about 70 commands that provide administrative, communication, intelligence and transportation services across the U.S. Central Command region.
Navy families were barred from Bahrain in 2004 because of security concerns, and the Navy shortened assignments there to one year. Spouses and children returned last year; the Navy has returned to traditional three-year accompanied tours.
The Navy undertook several renovation projects last year to prepare for family members, including the addition of a Starbucks coffee shop and the overhaul of a recreation center, Navy officials said.
The military base in Manama dates back to 1935, when the British navy built a port there. The U.S. took over the facility in 1971.