The Navy plans to build housing for 468 junior enlisted bachelors at Naval Base Coronado, Calif., at a cost of $76 million. More than 1,200 sailors on Coronado don't have adequate space. Here, base commander Capt. Gary Mayes, left, tours new bachelor enlisted quarters on San Clemente Island in August. (MC2 Dominique Pineiro / Navy)
Ship names, monuments and more
The 681-page National Defense Authorization Act primarily doles out $633 billion in military funds, but it contains other Navy-related measures that aren’t as budget-based, such as:
Naming rights: The Navy secretary now must explain to Congress the reason behind a ship’s name, giving the Senate and House Armed Services committees a report that justifies the name 30 days before it is publicly announced.
Congress has no authority to reject the name, but it will get advance notice of SECNAV’s decisions, some of which have been criticized for veering away from established naming conventions or honoring controversial figures. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has said exceptions should be made to honor exceptional people.
Diver monument: Congress put its support behind a diver’s memorial at the Washington Navy Yard at the site for the former Navy Dive School, provided that the memorial is funded entirely with private money.
The NDAA doesn’t mention the memorial by name, but the Homeland Security Policy Institute Group is developing The Man in the Sea Memorial Monument for the location. The group’s plan has caused a stir from at least one retired commander concerned that the "Man in the Sea" memorial does not include a reference to female divers.
The act makes no reference to gender inclusion but says the design is dependent on SECNAV’s approval.
Biofuel restrictions: The Navy cannot spend money on a biofuel refinery unless it receives an equal amount of funds from the Energy Department and "equivalent contributions" from the Agriculture Department.
The act does not stop the Navy from buying barrels of biofuel for operational purposes, a limitation some lawmakers hoped to impose because of budget concerns — some biofuel blends cost about four times as much as regular fuels, while others can be as much as 30 times as costly. The Senate spared the Navy from that restriction in November.
In the final hours of the 112th Congress, legislators approved and President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, giving the Navy permission to build new housing, workout facilities, dining halls and parking spaces. The bad news: Some of those parking spaces are in Romania.
The projects and locations are varied — surface warfare officers will have a new place to work out, a few hundred "A"-school students will have new bachelor enlisted quarters, and sailors will have a waterfront dining hall in Bahrain. And construction is expected to begin for many of those projects in just a matter of months.
The Navy Department initially requested $1.7 billion for building projects around the world, but Congress didn't approve a handful of Marine Corps projects, bringing the total authorization down to $1.57 billion. All Navy projects were approved, but the amount of spending authorized for one project was lower than requested.
And even though legislators have authorized DoN to spend the money, the Navy will not actually have the cash until a budget is passed. The blueprints could sit on shelves until a federal budget is approved.
On the bright side, despite concerns about government spending, quality-of-life initiatives have thus far not been eliminated:
• A new bachelor quarters, with enough room to house 468 E-1s to E-4s at Naval Base Coronado, Calif., was approved. Navy Installations Command hopes that the building, which will cost $76 million, will help house some of the 1,272 sailors in Coronado who don't have adequate BEQ space. Construction is scheduled to begin in March and take two years to complete.
• One new gym was approved. Naval Support Facility Dahlgren,Va., will receive $11.7 million for basketball and volleyball courts, group exercise space and other workout facilities.
The old gym just wasn't cutting it, NIC said. It's 61 years old, has been renovated several times and has infrastructure that is tough to operate and maintain. There is asbestos, poor circulation and a temperamental HVAC system. Besides that, it doesn't meet fire and safety codes and has been frequented by termites.
And while the list of problems at the old gym is long, the Navy hopes they'll be over by November 2014, when construction on the new gym is expected to be completed.
• Students in "A" school at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., will get new barracks. The facility will cost $39 million and hold 424 sailors, two per room. The new facilities will replace two barracks built in the mid-1960s that NIC says have HVAC problems and mold.
Because of the conditions, the two old buildings sit vacant, forcing "A" school students to reside in a "substandard" third building. In turn, other Oceana sailors who typically would live in that building instead live off base, costing $6 million per year. Construction is scheduled to start in April and take two years to complete.
• Sailors at Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss., will get a new dining hall. The cement slabs under their current galley's freezers were damaged by repetitive freezing and thawing cycles. Consequently, food has to be stored elsewhere. Also, the current dining facility has mold problems. Construction on the new mess hall is scheduled to begin in March and take 18 months to complete. The project costs $10.9 million.
• Naval Support Activity Bahrain is receiving $51.3 million, more construction funds than any other location abroad. Congress authorized $41.5 million for transient quarters for people who are working in Bahrain but have not received a permanent change of station. The quarters could house as many as 516 enlisted personnel and include a laundry room and lounges,
The Navy only handles about a third of the demand for transient housing in Bahrain, NIC said in documents. The ones that it doesn't have the space to house are put in local facilities, where they don't have as much security and are at greater risk of terrorist attack, NIC said. Construction is scheduled to begin in June and end two years later.
Those sailors living in the new transient housing will need somewhere to eat. A little more than $9.8 million was approved for a dining facility.
In 2010, NAS Bahrain began a five-year expansion project that would add 70 acres to the 62-acre complex, but so far, it hasn't added any new chow halls. This new one will give people staying at the BEQ and the transient housing along the waterfront both cafeteria and self-serve style dining options along the waterfront. A groundbreaking will be in May, and construction will take 18 months.
For the mission
Besides quality-of-life projects, the budget also funds training and operational facilities.
Aviators can expect new simulators, hangars and schoolhouses, while a littoral combat ship training facility was approved for the surface warfare community. Submariners will have a new explosives-handling wharf.
• The Navy's most expensive project is the wharf at Naval Base Kitsap, Wash. Congress approved $254.2 million for the work, short of the $280 million the Navy wanted, but it will provide a new space to arm ballistic- and guided-missile submarines. Construction started in July with previously approved funds and is expected to be complete by 2016.
• Funds will boost the MQ-4C Triton, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance unmanned aircraft. Congress approved $12.7 million for a maintenance training facility for the BAMS UAV at Point Mugu, Calif.
The Navy had actually requested $14.8 million for a maintenance training facility at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., instead.
Additionally, a $21 million mission control complex was approved for Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. The station will have two mission control systems to support a BAMS squadron and is the first of five control "hubs" for BAMS.
Construction funds for other control stations — at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy; Beale Air Force Base, Calif.; and a currently unnamed location in 5th Fleet — have not yet been approved.
• The Navy is shutting down the EA-6B Prowler simulator at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., but it is bringing in a fourth EA-18G Growler simulator. About $6.2 million has been approved for the project, which will make space for a new Growler sim.
• The LCS training facility at Naval Base San Diego received $59.4 million. According to a solicitation from the Navy to prospective contractors, the service wants to renovate an existing building to include secure spaces, classified vaults, large training bays, secret computer networks, classrooms, labs and a 10-ton crane, as well as other features. There will be enough space for 11 simulators. Complete shore-based training is a requirement for the LCS program because the ships will have limited manning, and it will be difficult to train sailors on the job.
Construction on the training center is scheduled to begin in March and take two years.
• Destroyers forward-deployed in Rota, Spain, will need a warehouse to hold their equipment and a magazine to hold their cache of weapons. Congress has authorized $4.3 million for the warehouse and $13.8 million for the magazine. Two of four destroyers are scheduled to arrive in 2014 by the time the warehouse will be complete. The second two destroyers are scheduled to arrive in 2015, coinciding with the end of construction on the magazine.
• The Navy is moving forward with a European missile shield. An Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Complex project received $45.2 million for construction in Deveselu, Romania. The system takes the Aegis ballistic missile defense system found on some warships and installs it on land, effectively creating a stationary missile defense outpost, plus parking for 100.
The facilities in Romania are the first for the project and will cover southern Europe by 2015. Plans also call for another system in Poland to cover northern Europe by 2018. Funding for the later phase has not been approved.
Facilities in Romania will include those aforementioned parking spaces.