Great Lakes, Ill. (NNS) -- Camp John Paul Jones and seven new barracks facilities at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes were moved a step closer to reality Sept. 20 with a symbolic ground breaking ceremony.
The ceremony commemorated the start of construction on a new $200-million recruit barracks facility and infrastructure development of a 48-acre parcel of land previously owned by the Veterans Administration.
"We are providing the training and equipment to win," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi, who served as honored guest speaker for the event. "These facilities will save money, improve training and efficiency and send a better Sailor to the fleet to defend their nation."
Principi noted it is fitting the new 48-acre parcel is being called Camp John Paul Jones, in honor of the Revolutionary War Hero, who is considered the father of the Navy. Principi said Jones' immortal words, "I have not yet begun to fight," should stand as a testament and challenge to today's Navy recruits.
Also in attendance was Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installation and Environment H.T. Johnson, Rep. Mark Kirk, Commander, Naval Training Center Rear Adm. Ann E. Rondeau and Mr. Peter Forester of Clark, Blinderman and Knight, the firm that is building the facilities.
"This is a history-making day, a future-making day," said Rear Adm. Rondeau. "The Navy, the Veterans Adminstration and the contractors are all here joining hands in this mammonth endeavor that improve efficency of the training our Sailors receive."
The addition of the 48-acre parcel allows Great Lakes to create a training-centric campus that places buildings where they will best support training operations.
It also enables the planning of buildable sites into the layout of the new boot camp, giving Great Lakes the flexibility to prepare for any expanded mission that might be assigned in the future. The recapitalization program, which began in 2001, will result in modern, efficient facilities suited to the training requirements of America's 21st Century Navy.
In total, seven barracks facilities will be constructed on the former VA land.
Each barracks will be a self-contained facility with its own galley and classroom spaces reducing transit time now need for meals and classroom training. Each barracks will house 1,000 recruits. The addition of the 48-acre parcel has enabled the recapitalization plan at Recruit Training Command to proceed more rapidly because existing buildings will not have to be torn down to begin construction of new facilities.
The ground breaking occurred in a week in which Recruit Training Command saw the dedication of two new facilities, which are part of the nearly $1-billion recapitlization program for boot camp.
Freedom Hall, a $32-million Physical Training Facility was dedicated Sept. 23. This facility, totaling 182,600 square feet, includes four running tracks, basketball and volleyball courts, and support spaces to allow more than 1,000 recruits to exercise simultaneously on two interior levels. The USS Constitution barracks facility was dedicated on Tuesday, Sept. 23.
The land parcel, which is adjacent to the current Recruit Training Command, was transferred to the Navy in a landmark agreement signed Feb. 8 by Secretary of the Navy Gordon England and VA Deputy Secretary Leo S. Mackay.
During the proposed 10-year recapitalization program at Recruit Training Command, key training, housing and related support facilities will be reconstructed. This effort will result in increased quality of training and improved living conditions for Sailors in basic training and their staff.
The contract for the two barracks facilities was awarded in late May to Chicago-based Clark/Blinderman/Knight, LLC.
The corporation, which is completing construction of the first two barracks in the recapitalization program, was awarded a firm-fixed priced design-build contract for multiple recruit barracks and infrastructure improvements.
The initial contract includes design and construction of two recruit barracks to be completed by March 2004. It also includes the development of the 48-acre tract of land. The contract also includes options for the five additional barracks slated for the former VA land site. Current plans call for exercising those options n fiscal years 2003, 2004, and 2005.
By late 2002, the face of Recruit Training Command will change drastically. Five new buildings will have replaced worn structures, constructed between 1942 and 1966, improving the quality of training for today's Sailors.
For related news, visit the Naval Training Center Great Lakes Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/greatlakes.