June 16, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that they have received confirmation from the U.S. Navy that it has moved all sailors out of junior enlisted barracks 191 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Today’s announcement comes after Senator Ayotte toured the barracks last month, met with sailors living there, and saw that the conditions were unfit for service members. Senators Ayotte, Shaheen, and King then worked together to include report language about the unacceptable conditions of the barracks in the annual defense bill and pressed Navy headquarters in Washington to remedy the situation as quickly as possible. The Navy has confirmed for the senators that, as of June 5, sailors are no longer living in barracks building 191.
“When our sailors sign-up to serve their country, they are owed a safe, suitable place to live and sleep. Barracks building 191 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was far from that,” Senator King said. “The Navy was right to move the sailors from these barracks, and moving forward, we will continue to work with the Navy and the shipyard to ensure that our sailors have permanent, safe housing that reflects the critical role they play in defending our national security.”
"I saw first-hand that conditions at the barracks were completely unacceptable for young sailors serving our country, and I am glad that the Navy has now provided them a suitable place to live. I applaud the shipyard leadership for calling attention to the condition of the barracks, and I look forward to working with the Navy to ensure that sailors at Portsmouth always have the accommodations they deserve and that allow them to focus on their important work,” said Senator Ayotte.
“We must honor our commitment to our servicemembers by making sure they have the equipment and resources they need, and that includes a safe and healthy living environment,” Senator Shaheen said. “The conditions at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard barracks fell well short of that commitment, and the relocation of sailors was long overdue.”
Last month, Senators King, Ayotte, and Shaheen worked to include report language in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that highlighted the unacceptable condition of the junior enlisted barracks at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The language notes that the barracks building there violates current state and federal building and fire codes, does not have an operational fire suppression system, and features heating, ventilation, air conditioning, power distribution, and lighting systems that are at the end of their life cycle. The same barracks building does not have code compliant fresh air ventilation, and frequently suffers from sewage failures, rodent problems, mold problems, and regular hot water failure. The language presses the Navy to expedite the military construction project to tear down the current barracks and replace it with a new barracks so that the junior enlisted sailors at Portsmouth have the safe and suitable housing they deserve.
On May 8, 2015, Senator Ayotte visited the barracks and met with junior enlisted sailors who were living in the barracks. The Senate Armed Services Committee published the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 Report on May 19, 2015 – which included the King, Ayotte, and Shaheen language regarding the unacceptable conditions of building 191.