The facilities aim to provide better accommodation and improve the quality of service for seafarers stationed aboard ships during scheduled maintenance availability. Adm. Daryl Caudle, Commander, US Fleet Forces Command, along with additional leadership from Fleet Forces, NNSY, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) attended the event and provided remarks.
“Just as we are committed to improving the quality and sustainability of our warships, we are equally committed to improving the quality of the barges that house the sailors who live in them,” Caudle said. “And this is just the first of many, with more being built right now; a testament to our commitment to improving the quality of life for sailors.”
The APL 68 is the second in a new class of quay barges to replace the 27 older quay barges that are reaching the end of their service life. It has berths for up to 609 people and mess facilities capable of accommodating food service for 1,130 people who can have three meals a day. It also has restrooms, classrooms, lounges, laundry, offices, a barbershop, a gym, and a medical facility. The barges provide a home away from home for crews on ships – particularly the watch section – while that ship undergoes extensive maintenance.
USS Harry S. Truman Sailors will be the first to use APL 68. The ship will soon enter a scheduled maintenance period after returning from a nine-and-a-half-month deployment.
“The Navy plans to build 12 barges for this new class, and we have already taken delivery of our second, the APL 70, which will enter service this spring. The Navy also plans to build 26 new medium-sized quay barges,” said Rear Adm. Bill Greene, Fleet Maintenance Officer, US Fleet Forces Command. “These new barges are designed to support cruisers, destroyers, LPDs and LSD amphibious ships and submarines as they undergo depot-level maintenance.”
As for the new NEX Micro Mart at NNSY, the facility officially opened to sailors and shipyard workers in October, and since then about 1,100 people have walked through the doors. Not surprisingly, officials say coffee is the best-selling item.
“This Micro Mart is on track to become one of the busiest in the world. We have 64 of these in operation right now and this location is doing over 1,000 transactions a day. The important point is that it takes care of our Sailors and our civilian workforce team,” said retired Rear Adm. Robert Bianchi, Chief Executive Officer, Naval Exchange Service Command. “This is a big day for all of us as we focus on quality of life and supporting our Sailors and civilians.”
The new Micro Mart operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using a self-checkout system and is within a few minutes’ walk of APL 68. It provides sailors and shipyard workers with healthy food choices such as salads, fruit and snack options, as well as hot and cold drinks, a variety of hot and serve meals and sandwiches. This Micro Mart is designed as a facility that will save people time and provide more options on working days and during transport to and from the yard.
In 2022, NEXCOM opened 10 new Micro Marts with plans for 20 more in the new future.