Ask the Captain - Q&A (continued)
Question (December 2014): The pool at Port Hueneme is used by many active duty as well as DoD Civilians. Not sure if you are aware but the heater at the pool failed, and we’re being told it will be after the New Year before it can be repaired. The last time I swam, only one other person was brave enough to jump into the 65 degree water. I and the other patrons would appreciate anything you can do to expedite this repair.
Answer: The equipment failure at the Port Hueneme pool is definitely inconvenient for our frequent lap swimmers, and as with all critical failures, it was immediately reported up the chain of command to my office.
Unfortunately, the repair delay is the result of an equipment backorder; the part we need just isn’t available any sooner. We’ve avoided closing the pool, as some people are willing to brave the colder water, but we are monitoring the water temperature to ensure it doesn’t fall below 65 degrees, which is the minimum temperature recommended by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s Manual of Preventive Medicine, Chapter 4.
In the interim, the hours at the Point Mugu pool have been expanded to allow more people use of that facility. It’s now open 6 – 8:30 a.m. Monday – Friday and 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The locker room stays open 30 minutes later most days to accommodate patrons. For more information, call 805-989-7788.
Question (November 2013): We have fantastic aquatics facilities at Naval Base Ventura County; it’s great to be able to swim year-round in an outdoor, heated pool. Pool hours have been reduced due to budget cuts, and with winter hours in effect, pool hours are very limited.
I know the demand is there to keep the pool open. Why not keep the pool open all day without lifeguards? Or you could charge everyone to swim. I know this would probably go against Navy policy, but if there is one person who has the power to change this it’s you, the commanding officer of the base. I know there is a safety risk in doing this, but in my opinion it’s quite low. We don’t have lifeguards at the beach, after all.
Answer: Thank you for your note and suggestions. Lifeguards at pools are a requirement that is regulated by Navy instruction (CNIC Instruction 1710.3, Operation of Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs). MWR-run pools must maintain strict patron-to-lifeguard ratios to maintain the safety of our families and the security and condition of our facilities. Pools in private communities not run by MWR are not held to the same regulation.
As you pointed out, we don’t have lifeguards at our beach, unless MWR is hosting an event. We do, however, require swimmers — and surfers — to swim with a buddy, only in designated areas, and only during daytime hours. Those in violation can lose the privilege of access to the beach.
We charge patrons for recreational use of the pool but cannot charge active duty members using the pool for physical training, just like we can’t charge them to use our gyms.
Budget cuts have been difficult, and we’ve looked into options to reduce the strain, but we are maintaining the highest level of service given our current fiscal environment.
Question (June 2013): After seeing the banners publicizing the golf course, I decided to come try out the greens. When I arrived, I was told I needed a pass to come on base. Is the course really open to the public?
Answer: The Seabee Golf Course at Naval Base Ventura County is indeed open to the public, but we do require users to go through a security process to obtain a year-long pass to the facility. The pass allows you base access for the purpose of golfing.
To obtain an application for a pass, contact the Seabee Golf Course at 805-982-4602. You’ll be asked to complete the application and return it via email to the golf course staff. They submit the application for you as your sponsor. It currently takes about three weeks to process the passes, which includes completing a background check on prospective golfers. This helps us maintain our security posture while sharing our great facility with the public.
Once your pass is processed, you will be contacted by a member of our staff letting you know that you can come pick up your pass, and you’re good for a year of fun on the links at Port Hueneme. I hope that you understand our need for security and come share some golf fun with your military community.
Question (March 2013): Why were some classes at the gyms on base cut and others kept? My favorite Zumba class was cut and so was another really good step aerobics class. I heard it was related to budget cuts, but it doesn’t seem fair that some instructors had classes taken away and others got to keep theirs.
Answer: Thank you for the opportunity to address your concerns. The impacts of the continuing resolution and budget cuts known as sequestration affect many areas of military life, including Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) activities like the gyms. As a result of mandated reductions in gym hours from Commander, Navy Installations Command, MWR has had to make difficult cuts. While we recognize such decisions are not always popular, we have put careful consideration into every decision.
To limit the impact across the installation, we have carefully examined utilization rates across the services and classes provided. For example, the 4:30 p.m. Zumba class averaged approximately 13 more patrons than the 6:30 p.m. class, so we kept the earlier class.
Ultimately, we have to make the decisions that impact our Sailors and families the least, so when the mandated cuts were first proposed, we chose to reduce duplicate classes by cancelling the least used sessions. These kinds of decisions are never easy to make, but please know that the primary criteria we used was how many people actually used the service. For popular classes like Zumba, this was difficult because classes were all used with regularity, but we were required to eliminate duplication first to maintain variety across the facility.
Question (July 2012): Sir, I am writing to bring your attention to the unusually high temperature of the lap swimming pool on Port Hueneme. This pool is an excellent facility and is well used and loved by many on base. I swim in the pool every weekday, generally swimming 3-5 miles each day (I train for long distance swim events). The last few weeks the pool has been extraordinarily hot, to the point where I can't safely train. Normal temperature for a lap pool is 79-81 degrees, for at least the last three weeks the Port Hueneme pool has far exceeded that. Today (7/23), the water temperature was at an unsafe level -- in excess of 90 degrees. That is crazy high, and is unsuitable for a fitness swimming environment. The pool manager is aware of the problem, but is unable to change the settings of the heater as it is housed in a separate building that he does not have access to. Can you please intervene and give the pool manager the ability to regulate the temperature of his pool? There is only so much that leaving the pool covers off at night can do. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Answer: Thank you for allowing me to address your concern. Please be assured the health and welfare our Sailors and our families is my paramount concern. Our Public Works department is responsible for checking and regulating the temperature at our pool facilities, rather than pool management. Every morning and every afternoon, the temperature of each pool is checked using a calibrated thermometer and recorded. The pool is set to reach 83 degrees Fahrenheit, although it usually hovers around 82.5, as it is difficult to heat 1.5 million gallons of open water. This is higher than most lap swimmers prefer, but the pool is used to teach young swimmers, for water aerobics and for wounded warrior adaptive training, hence the warmer temperatures. This warmer-water standard follows preventive medicine guidelines for health water activities.
I have directed that the pool manager contact Public Works whenever the temperature exceeds these standards and that for the summer months or during any period of above-average temperatures, the temperature be checked more often.
Question (April 2013): I have an issue with the management decisions being made at the NBVC Port Hueneme pool. The morning hours have been changed to 0600 to 0730 for lap swim in order to save money. Additionally, the locker room and shower facility are closed at 0730 (making it impossible to shower and change into a uniform immediately after swimming). These hours do not match the PT schedule of the battalions or Underwater Construction Team 2 (which is 0700 to 0830 and involves preparing diver candidates for dive school). From 0600 to 0700 there is nobody in the Hueneme pool while two life guards sit in the heated, main office and socialize. The Point Mugu pool hours are from 0600 to 0800 and their locker room remains open in order to accommodate showers afterwards. Point Mugu is a 30 minute drive from Hueneme so it doesn’t make sense for battalion and UCT personnel to make the long drive to swim and shower at that location. Since the Point Mugu pool hosts one or two swimmers per day with no battalion or UCT personnel stationed on that base… I highly recommend swapping the 0600 to 0800 hours from Point Mugu to Port Hueneme and keep the Port Hueneme locker room open until 0830.
Answer: Thank you for allowing me to address your concern. Due to the sweeping budget cuts known as sequestration, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs across the Navy have been required to make several program and facility adjustments. New guidelines specifically limit hours of operation for Aquatics, Liberty and Fitness Centers. There is also a required reduction in the number of fitness programs to be offered.
Locally, the Port Hueneme and Point Mugu pools took a 20 percent reduction in hours of operation and programming. The result in this case was a half hour reduction in the morning hours from 0600-0800 to 0600-0730 at both aquatic facilities. We have surveyed our morning patrons and find them evenly split regarding satisfaction with this change. We cannot keep locker rooms open after closing without staff for safety reasons, nor can we add hours that we’ve been directed to cut. The newly reopened Warfield Gym is an alternative for shower and locker room facilities.
Based on the current fiscal climate, we anticipate these shortened hours to be in place for an extended period of time. We appreciate our patrons’ understanding during this difficult time. MWR staff will continue to offer the best possible customer service and programming within the current budgetary constraints.
Question (April 2012): Request to allow spouses of civilian employees to receive temporary base access (90 days) during summer time so they can drive children to participate in many excellent summer programs offered on base (swimming lessons, summer camps...). The civilian employees will be the sponsors and the applications must have proof of registration for an on-base summer program.
Answer: Unfortunately the installation is unable to grant this request. This is one I wanted to be able to do, but I’ve looked at all the options available, and the only reasonable alternative would be to vet spouses and alternate caregivers as we do employees. This is not a task we can accomplish locally; all our current vetting runs through the region. Nor is this a task we can accomplish affordably; the cost of vetting individuals is prohibitive. The other option would be open, unvetted access, which we just cannot allow. We have to balance access to the base with ensuring that our facilities – and more importantly our employees, service members and families – are safe and secure on the installation. We welcome the participation of DoD civilians’ families in our recreational programs, but the employee must take responsibility for getting their children on and off the installation.
Question (May 2012): Recreational vehicle storage area at Point Mugu is supposed to be a secure area. The Gate to the area has been open for the past two months. I have notified MWR and PW of this and was told that the power was cut to the gate. I am concerned that the trailer I store in this area is not being secured against theft or vandalism. I am currently charged for a secure spot to park my trailer. Can this be corrected?
Answer: Thank you for allowing us a chance to address your concerns. Force Protection is my number one priority, and that extends to ensuring that everyone and everything on this base is secure. Power to the gate was cut due to construction issues at the site supplying power to the parking area. Once the power went out, Force Protection was notified and made concerted efforts to increase patrols of the area to ensure the security of the property stored there. Power has now been restored on the site. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and allowing me a chance to respond.
Question (April 2012): Build an off road or paintball battle field either or both would make a great profit for funds too nbvc and only bad thing is that everyone will want to be there for the enjoyment and its land atmosphere, even small bootcamp exercises for paintball battles would be more interesting, or making match battles, ex service personnel vs. civilians, vets, or other military departments... think outside the box,
Answer: Thank you for your interest in outdoor sports at NBVC. Point Mugu established a paintball field in 2005, but it quickly fell into disuse. Interest just wasn’t that high. The field became a dumping ground, and for safety reasons was closed. Final clean-up at the site was completed in February 2012. Recently, we’ve seen an increase in questions about these kinds of activities and plan to hold focus groups to gauge the level of interest. We are open to any activities we can safely support, and will make the best decisions for the service members and families we serve. We’ll be forming focus groups about these kinds of activities soon and will be asking for the community to step up and help. Keep an eye on the Lighthouse and Facebook for more information.
Question (April 2012): Dear CO, Can you tell me the reason behind the closure of the paintball/archery field at Point Mugu. Is there a plan for the field to reopen?
Answer: Thank you for your interest in outdoor sports at NBVC. Point Mugu established a paintball field in 2005, but it quickly fell into disuse. Interest just wasn’t that high. The same goes for archery. The fields became dumping grounds, and for safety reasons were closed. Recently, we’ve seen an increase in questions about these kinds of activities and plan to hold focus groups to gauge the level of interest. We are open to any activities we can safely support, and must make the best decisions for the service members and families we serve. We’ll be forming focus groups about these kinds of activities soon and will be asking for the community to step up and help. Keep an eye on the Lighthouse and Facebook for more information.
Question (May 2012): What happened to the paintball and archery fields on Point Mugu? Are there plans to reopen them or something similar like an offroad vehicle course?
Answer: As the weather has warmed up, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about the old paintball course and the possibility of reopening it or expanding its use to other sports, like creating a course for offroad vehicles and four-wheelers.
The paintball course opened in 2005, but never really took off. We explored several options to increase traffic at the site, including the possibility of contracting out site management. We even considered whether opening the site to the public would help, but the security concern of allowing public access was just too great. Ultimately, the site fell into disarray as patrons began bringing their own “obstacles” and “cover” to the site in the form of couches and old doors.
Eventually, the site became a safety hazard and was being used as a disposal site. The archery course suffered the same fate. Morale, Welfare & Recreation staff completed a clean-up of the site in 2012, clearing safety hazards and environmental concerns.
An offroad vehicle course would have even more safety concerns and a greater impact on the environment. Point Mugu is an environmentally sensitive location, and we have gone out of our way to protect the largest area of unencroached wetlands in the state.
We want to be open to the idea of having paintball and archery facilities, but we aren’t funded to support a facility that is underused. In the near future, MWR plans to hold focus groups to gauge continued interest in having these facilities available. If there’s enough interest, we are more than willing to re-examine the issue.
Question (February 2013): I would like to see an archery range return to Point Mugu. There is so much land here and archery leaves no waste (ie: lead, brass, paintballs). Unlike paintball, archery requires no obstacles to leave behind. Just flat land with no current use. Currently there is no place to for people to train or teach. There has been a spike in archery sales since the summer games, hunger games and Disney's Brave. If there is 50 yards of flat land anywhere we should immediately designate it an archery area. No studies, boards, meetings or evaluations needed. Just a sign that says clean up after yourself and no shooting wild animals. Thank you.
Answer: Thank you for your interest in an archery range at Naval Base Ventura County. I loved The Hunger Games, but setting up an archery range is not as simple as just finding 50 yards of flat space and putting out a call for archery enthusiasts.
As you pointed out, archery ranges do not require obstacles. They do require targets, back stops, safety measures, monitoring and upkeep. The U.S. Navy requires that any recreational archery range ensure that all targets are properly backstopped and that shooting stations are at least 16.5 feet apart and aligned to the designated target in accordance with BUPERSINST 1710.11C, 1915 (a) and Military Handbook 1037/3, 6.1 (c) and Figure 55a.
Additionally, warning signs must be posted and non-participants must be kept away from the firing range. It is recommended that the range be supervised at all times, and that an on-duty range official check all equipment prior to use.
With grounds maintenance, this adds up to both a lot of equipment and regulatory concerns in addition to manpower and training issues before we even begin to examine the environmental impact and risk to the endangered/threatened species that inhabit our facility. In the current fiscal climate, funding to support an archery range is a low priority. If interest remains high, we will re-examine as funding allows.
Question (September 2012): Just registering my regrets over this year's cancellation of the Laguna Peak Challenge. This uphill road race has always been highly anticipated by my friends and myself. Up until last year, this race was open to the public, providing an excellent opportunity for the recruiters to reach out to the local youth, as well as a wonderful venue for the community to visit NBVC. I'm thinking the race's cancellation is related to either security or cost. Regardless, I hope that it will be able to be rescheduled at some time in the future.
Answer: Thanks for allowing me a chance to address this. I understand your concern on our decision to discontinue the Laguna Peak Challenge. The event was unique and challenging with breathtaking views of the coastline. There were several factors that influenced the decision, including force protection and security issues at the peak and low participation. Last year less than 40 people participated in the run.
There are several other races throughout the year that have much higher participation and offer the same community relations opportunities. For example, this month’s Wounded Warrior Half Marathon, 5K and Military Mile drew over 1,000 registered participants. As an open-base event, it’s a great opportunity for the public to come see the base and show their support.
Question (January 2013): Why is this year’s (2013) Admiral’s Cup Triathlon scheduled for June 1? That will conflict with a lot of school graduations and people might not be able to participate. Why not have it later in the month like last year?
Answer: The Admiral’s Cup Triathlon is a great open-base event that allows people from all over to both get a good race in and come aboard our installation and see what the Navy has to offer. Last year we had a great turnout at the end of June, and we hope that this year will be as big or bigger.
As you pointed out, this year’s race is earlier in June and might conflict with other events around the county. However, the Admiral’s Cup is scheduled to coincide with the Armed Forces Triathlon, an event that takes nation-wide and cross-service coordination at the highest level. The Armed Forces Triathlon is the final qualifying race for our military athletes looking to compete on the international scale, representing the United States military against other military forces across the globe. Holding the Admiral’s Cup at the same time allows us to offer a professional-level triathlon for non-military competitors without the added cost associated with holding the events on different dates.
I hope that you can make both your school events and your desire to race work out this year, and that you come out in support of our nation’s military athletes who have trained so hard to get the chance to represent the U.S. in a peaceful, international sporting event.
Question (May 2013): What is the base policy on charging personal vehicles at electric vehicle charging stations? I’ve seen some available on base, but they’re locked.
Answer: At this time, charging personally owned vehicles at charging stations installed using appropriated funds is not allowed by law. Essentially, it would be similar to allowing you to gas your car at the government vehicle fuel station. We are, at this time, similarly prohibited from pursuing a reimbursement for power taken for private use versus official use.
However, the Navy Exchange is exploring offering recharged stations for a metered cost to the customer. There is a pilot station open in Bethesda, Maryland and two stations are set to open in the San Diego area this year.
The Navy is a strong supporter of green technology and energy for the fleet, and pursuing these pay-for-use options with the NEX is one way to extend that initiative to the Sailors and their families.
Question (June 2012): Why doesn’t the surf contest include body boarding this year (2012)? My family loves body boarding, and were looking forward to it again this year.
Answer: The Surf Contest is a huge event for us. This year (2012), the fifth for the contest, saw the open division sell out in record time. As more and more competitors and spectators learn about the chance to surf Point Mugu, the contest continues to grow and change to meet the needs of the event and security on base.
The discussion about refining and improving the event continues throughout the year, and over time different divisions have been cut to reflect those discussions. We cut the longboard division, for example, when we found that those boards don’t survive the surf here at Point Mugu very well. Competitors were breaking their boards, which isn’t safe.
We also made a decision to not include paddle boarding or kite surfing, not as a judgment about those disciplines, but for other, measurable reasons. Many of these decisions are made based on judges’ requests, competitors’ feedback and military interest in the categories – this is, after all, a military event.
One big consideration for any contest is consistency and accuracy in judging. Our judges in years past have asked for more time between heats to review and score the competitors, and we decided the best way to give them that time is to restrict the number of divisions offered. Bodyboarding suffered from a lack of participation and was cut to allow the other divisions the time they needed.
I understand your love of the discipline, and I hope we still see you and your family cheering at the contest again this year even though bodyboarding will not be a featured event.