POINT MUGU, Calif. (NNS) -- Sailors and civilians stationed at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) San Nicolas Island (SNI) are enjoying the comforts of home thanks to an upgraded theater and brand new Ship's Store in Nictown, the island's main living area.
Officials conducted a ribbon cutting Wednesday, May 7, to commemorate the upgrades at the remote facility, located on one of the Channel Islands 65 miles off the Southern California coast.
After a $2.29 million renovation, Building 151 at SNI reopened April 9 as the home to the expanded Ship's Store. The building also houses a 24-hour Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR) Liberty Center and the movie theater, which opened April 23 with a showing of "Monuments Men." A barbershop will soon open as well, located between the lounge and Ship's Store.
"This location is so much better than what we had before," said Seaman Cameron Compton, who helps operate the Ship's Store. "It's much closer to our living spaces, and people can walk over."
The new Ship's Store space is also 60 percent larger than the previous location. The added space and dedicated storage capacity is a blessing for the Sailors running the store. They used to share the Ship's Store with the bowling alley on the island, and it could get really cramped.
"It's great to have something to call our own," Compton said.
The opening of the barbershop will put an additional duty on the ships' servicemen; they'll be doing barber duty as well.
"It's part of the job, and with practice, it's easy," said Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Nigiel Quattlebaum.
Across the hall from the new Ship's Store is the Liberty Center, which is back in full operation after the renovation. Four computers, two televisions, a pool table and a wi-fi hotspot make it a popular place for after-work relaxation, said Chief Ship's Serviceman Corey Lathan, senior enlisted adviser for SNI.
The theater renovation modernized the space and equipment; the theater can now show the latest digital format releases. Although small by theater standards, seating just 130, it's more than capable of handling patrons on the island, which has an average weekday population of approximately 160.
"Projects like this are great for Sailor morale," said NBVC's Command Master Chief Percy Trent, who toured the island the day of the theater's inaugural movie screening. "It's important that people stationed here at SNI have access to the same type of opportunities as they would have in any other facilities."
"It's definitely a remote location," Lathan added, "so providing opportunities to get together, outside of their rooms, helps keep them entertained while they're here away from their families."
For the civilians living on SNI, whether it be the Public Works staff keeping the utilities running or firefighters manning the station, having entertainment options available helps make SNI a good place to work.
"It's a unique location. I love it here," Firefighter Jon Foster, who has worked at SNI for 25 years, said while shopping at the Ship's Store with Rick Kuykendall, a high-voltage electrician who's been at SNI for 14 years. Both agreed that recent improvements to MWR options have made staying out at SNI an easy choice to make.
"I'll never leave," Kuykendall said, settling on some crackers. "This is my home."
For more news from Naval Base Ventura County, visit www.navy.mil/local/nbvc/.