PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Naval Station Pearl Harbor held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 28 for the grand opening of the Navy Lodge Hawaii at Building 78 on Ford Island.
The historical landmark building was erected in 1941. It served as a bachelor officers' quarters until 1984. The building was also used as an emergency medical center during the attack on Pearl Harbor and was featured in the film "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Preserving the building's 1940s design both inside and out was a main priority during the renovation period.
During the ceremony, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii/Commander, Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific, Rear Adm. Bernard J. McCullough III, said the opening of the lodge should greatly improve the quality of life for service members stationed in Oahu.
"When service members first arrive on the island, historically, we've booked them in hotels down in Waikiki," said McCullough. "Typically, the service member can only afford to buy one rental car that is used for his or her transportation to their respective duty station, leaving their spouse without transportation to gainfully seek employment. Now, with the lodging opportunities in this historic building that is so close to our military installations, the spouse is free to use the rental car to find a job and take the family around to see the island," said McCullough.
"Some might view this as an economic detraction from commercial ventures in Waikiki. I would tell you that our Sailors' per diem rates are much less than what you can get for an average hotel room in Waikiki. So I think this is a win-win situation for the local business community and the Navy," he added.
The $22 million renovated lodge comes equipped with 55 two-room suites.
"Being two-room suites, there is more room for families who are in a permanent change of station status, or temporary assignment duty, or the occasion when a service member wants to sponsor family or friends," said Steve Tolliver, Navy Lodge assistant manager. "They also come with complete kitchenettes, cookware and a dinette set. These are things that the military service members didn't have before."
The new lodge hopes to help service members and their families with the transition upon first arriving or leaving Hawaii by providing convenient access to Pearl Harbor and a place to live while looking for an apartment in the local area or waiting to move into base housing.
"We are here to make sure they (service members and their families) are comfortable and relaxed, and to take away any stress they might have as far as lodging until they can get into their prospective homes," Tolliver said. "We are also centralized in as far as Pearl Harbor is just up the road, as well as Hickham, Fort Shafter, the commissary, all in a very short commute. They no longer have to worry about fighting traffic."
The lodge offers service members a unique opportunity in the way that it is geared toward military personnel.
"Having a Navy Lodge here is important, because we tailor ourselves to the military community," said Tolliver. "If not for the military community, we wouldn't be here."
For Lt. j.g. Patrick Sullivan, who served as the auxiliaries officer aboard USS O'Kane (DDG 77), the new lodge eases some of the financial burden that comes with transferring from Hawaii.
"Staying at the Navy Lodge has worked out great for us financially," said Sullivan. It was easier to move out of housing, and we can buy food at the commissary and just eat here. So it has been tremendous," he said.
Aside from the financial benefits the lodge offers service members, there is the added comfort of feeling safe. "This is a gated area, and there are a number of security measures to get on the island, so you know the type of people you are staying with," said Sullivan. "That's comforting for me and my wife and kids," he added.
For related news, visit the Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cnrh.