News: Naval Support Activity Bahrain officially opened its brand new Installation Services Support Center.
Naval Support Activity Bahrain officially opened its brand new Installation Services Support Center (ISSC), June 15, during a grand-opening ceremony which heralds a significant improvement to permanent and visiting Sailors' quality of life. The 188,000 square foot facility, named the "Freedom Souq," houses the Navy Exchange (NEX), Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR), post office, and Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) under one roof.
The ISSC combines and consolidates the operations of more than 20 buildings on NSA Bahrain into one force-protected building. "It offers our Sailors one-stop shopping," said NSA Bahrain's MWR Director Douglas Arnett. "We have a full array of shopping, dining, entertainment and fitness activities; all in one climate-controlled, reasonably-priced environment. It's going to be a real morale-booster."Adding to that boost is the new NEX facility, which is three times larger than the previous NSA Bahrain ship store.
"Sailors now have a dazzling new 30,000 square foot store that spans two floors," said NSA Bahrain's NEX General Manager, Dan Cougevan. "The first floor has food and consumables, the top deck carries shoes, clothing, jewelry and an outstanding assortment of technology-based products.
This store is an absolute knockout." A large benefit of the base's expansion from ship store to an NEX is the improved product selection "Typically, a ship store will have about 200 to 300 line items," said Cougevan. "We'll have more than 7,000 line items in this store." "I think it's going to give the Sailors a lot more choices," said Capt. Mark Deardurff, commanding officer of NSA Bahrain and Commander, Navy Region Southwest Asia. "Everything is new and centrally located. I think the biggest benefit from a customer perspective is the variety they'll be able to choose from."
Also known as Building 261, the ISSC will house a 24-hour food court, laundry and dry cleaners, barber shop and beauty salon, video store, internet café, photo shop "just to name a few. Within two months, the facility also expects to open the NFCU, two movie theaters, and individual officer, chief, and enlisted clubs. "We truly are offering a genuine mall complex here in Bahrain , similar to the largest stores in CONUS," said Michael Good, chief operating officer of Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM). "It gives Sailors a social place where they can shop, relax, and be entertained.
The complex will also accommodate MWR's fitness center. The facility boasts a state of the art gym with cardio and weight rooms. It also has basketball and racquetball courts and a full-size running track, which encircles the court. The locker rooms come equipped with saunas and steam rooms. "This fitness center is pretty much a prototype of what fitness centers are Navy-wide," said NSA Bahrain MWR, Athletic Director, Mike Jones. "There isn't a program here in the physical conditioning or fitness area that we won't provide in some form or fashion."
The $24 million project began design in July 2001, and officially broke ground on Oct. 2003, during a ceremony attended by Former Secretary of the Navy, Gordon England . Construction was completed in March and NEX and MWR employees oversaw the moving and stocking efforts.
So while the grand opening is an event in itself, the ISSC also ensured that the occasion is more than just a ribbon cutting. Throughout the weekend, scheduled live concerts, giveaways, contests and an opportunity for one lucky Sailor to ride off on a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle, have Sailors flocking to the Freedom Souq. "This is going to hugely impact the quality of life for the service members stationed and visiting NSA Bahrain," said Chief of Naval Operations-Directed Master Chief Kelly Schneider, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5 th Fleet master chief, as he emerged from the NEX. "It's a wonderful facility that has everything you can imagine. It's clean and organized; this is a top-notch facility."
Master at Arms 3 rd Class Nicole Freeman concurs. "I'm stocking up," she laughed as her arms were filled to capacity with clothing and DVDs. "There's a much bigger selection. We really won't need to go out in town to buy the things we need anymore." "This is a great," agreed Chief Cryptologic Technician " Administration (SW/AW) Nathanial Ramsey, from U.S, Naval Forces Central Command intelligence department. "There's a big difference in the prices, quality and quantity.
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh says the new complex was well-needed. "This new facility helps us achieve our personal goals," he said. "So whether it's working out in the state-of-the-art fitness facility, purchasing a gift for a family member back home, or just grabbing a quick bite to eat, the Freedom Souq will go a long way toward improving the quality of our lives - as well as the quality of our work."
NSA Bahrain's mission is to provide security, administrative and logistics support to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Navy 5 th Fleet personnel, along with the 76 tenant commands that call NSA Bahrain home. Together these entities help conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the 5 th Fleet area of operations.
MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.