Building manager Edwin Ejanda showed one of the rooms at Pearl Harbor's new bachelor enlisted quarters last month.

Pearl Harbor cures
Navy’s cabin fever

Single sailors like the privacy
afforded by improving housing

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Two decades ago when Navy Petty Officer Thayer Coleman was stationed in San Diego, his ship was his home.

He had to share living space with at least three dozen men squeezed into an area the size of a small Hawaii studio apartment no matter if he was at sea or in port.

Several years ago when this warship, the USS Port Royal, got word that it was coming to Hawaii, where housing is available on shore for single enlisted sailors, "morale just shot up," Coleman recalled.

Pearl Harbor is the only U.S. Navy port where shipboard sailors are guaranteed shoreside housing, taking them away from the cramped confines of their warship and providing them with privacy.

Master Chief Romulo Bugayong, bachelor housing billeting officer, said the sailors are housed in 61 buildings at Pearl Harbor, Naval Communications and Telecommunications System in Wahiawa, Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay and West Loch's Naval Magazine. It amounts to 3,168 rooms and 5,720 beds.

Navy officials like to compare its housing operations to Outrigger Hotels, which is the only organization that maintains more rooms than the Navy does.

And there is more being built with a new housing complex of 54 rooms and 108 beds planned for next year, Bugayong said. Groundbreaking is set for February for another complex of 56 rooms and 112 beds. Those units will include a washer-dryer in each room, which will be shared by two sailors. The next generation of housing also will allow single sailors to have a stove in their rooms instead of a microwave.

Plans call for eight other new buildings. More than $60 million has been appropriated for new Navy bachelor housing quarters.

Hawaii's enlisted bachelor housing complexes range from the most modern, where two sailors each have a private bedroom, bathroom and a kitchen facility, to adjoining four-man rooms connected to a single bathroom facility, but no kitchen.

Master Chief Petty Officer Sly Dilog, housing operations director, said, "The goal at Pearl Harbor is get every sailor stationed here a private bedroom and bath."

Petty Officer Jay Del Pezzo, a signalman on the USS Chosin, said the Pearl Harbor housing complexes are "like being away in college."

When Del Pezzo, 26, enlisted four years ago, he was forced, like other single enlisted sailors, to live on a ship even when it was in port.

"It was nice," Del Pezzo said, recalling his transfer to Pearl Harbor. "It was like having your own apartment. You didn't have to fight over the television with 60 other guys. It was beautiful.

"Everything was there -- the cable television and phone jacks -- I was able to get everything up and running within a day."

There is one hitch.

Del Pezzo and the other 11,164 sailors who are assigned to Pearl Harbor's 12 warships and auxiliary vessels generally have to check out when their ships leave Oahu for a six-month deployment. Del Pezzo has gone out on two six-month deployments and had to put his stuff in storage provided by the Navy.

However, that is not true for the 1,883 sailors assigned to the 17 nuclear submarines at Pearl Harbor, Dilog said. "They have permanent quarters. When their sub goes out on deployment, they don't have to check out of their rooms."

He is hoping that after all the renovations are completed at Pearl Harbor, "shipboard sailors won't have to check out and will have a permanent place to live."

Hawaii bachelor enlisted sailors also were the first in the Navy to get mail delivered to their apartments -- a convenience taken for granted by civilians.

"In the past, sailors got their mail where they work," Bugayong said, "and not in their barracks. That meant there was no mail delivery on weekends."

"It's very challenging (delivering the mail), but it's good for the quality of life of the sailors," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Joel Adamos, SubSide Complex manager. "We want to make this as much of a home-style atmosphere as possible."

All these changes have brought an award of excellence for the Navy Region Hawaii's bachelor housing complexes: the Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt achievement award for providing the "ultimate in military bachelor housing hospitality." Bugayong compares the award to five-star ratings given to the best hotels.

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