GROTON, Conn. – Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London Morton Hall Gymnasium is once again serving Sailor physical readiness but with new restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
As SUBASE has cautiously re-opened some facilities and resumed some services as part of the Force Health Condition Bravo expansion of support activities, Morton Hall has re-opened for use by Active Duty and Naval Submarine School (SUBSCOL) students only.
The gym opens daily for active duty military from 6 a.m. - Noon; closes for top to bottom cleaning and sanitization, and then re-opens for SUBSCOL students from 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Morton Hall had been closed to all-hands use since April 26.
The goal of helping Sailors maintain Navy physical readiness underpinned the Morton Hall re-opening decision.
“Just because the Navy is not having any physical fitness assessment tests for the remainder of the year doesn’t mean that the standards have changed at all,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate Jeffrey Bealmear, a Command Fitness Leader on SUBASE New London. “As Sailors, we have an extremely difficult job and tasking placed in front of us. Whether it’s 12 hours on a post, underway on small boats, or on piers conducting evolutions, or whether it’s meal support at the galley or even moving correspondence and reviewing message traffic from a desk, we have a "No Fail" mission here at SUBASE. We must be physically and mentally ready to carry it out.”
For SUBASE leadership, one fundamental mitigation measure in re-opening the gym was to maintain a “bubble” to help insulate and protect key users: SUBSCOL students training to join the force and waterfront Sailors serving aboard base submarines.
“There are many vectors this virus can take to infiltrate our Force and threaten mission assurance,” explained Capt. Todd Moore, SUBASE Commanding Officer. “Just because the forest fire is out of sight, over the nearest hill, does not mean we can fall asleep in our hammocks. Some continued health protection measures remain necessary to safeguard our operations. We must maintain the ability to train and crew our submarines and take them to sea.”
Moore highlighted that as asymptomatic spread is a reality, a small cluster of cases can turn into hundreds of new infections within days.
“Here at SUBASE that means that even as we re-open or resume service and support activities, we will do so in a manner that protects “the bubble” necessary to maintain the mission assurance of our Sailors in the schoolhouses and those aboard our waterfront submarines,” said Moore. “These Sailors may continue to live and work under measures more restrictive than apply to others – including family members; Navy civilians; and veterans and retirees. Ensuring we do not increase any undue risk to these Sailors and their mission is critical. We cannot let coronavirus take over one of our submarines or schoolhouses on the base.”
To limit any undue risk, SUBASE and Morton Hall staff have implemented new protocols and safety measures in addition to the two separate and designated patron usage periods.
“We are fully committed to ensuring Sailors have the ability to maintain their physical readiness in a safe, sanitized, and supportive environment,” said Kevin Boedigheimer, fitness and athletic director for the SUBASE Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Department.
The gym has spread out equipment spread to ensure physical distancing, and some resources such as showers, lockers, saunas, and basketball courts are not available for use. Patrons are also required to wear facial coverings when not engaged in physical workout activity.
Additionally, gym staff sanitize machines and equipment after use, and conduct a deep cleaning in between the active duty and student patron periods.
For Sailors at the gym, the opportunity to use its equipment is welcome.
“The staff at the gym are doing an amazing job keeping us safe,” said Culinary Specialist (Submarine) 1st Class Bryan MejiaGiraldo, a Command Fitness Leader on SUBASE New London. “Outdoor workouts are great but this additional opportunity to use the indoor gym equipment adds a whole other dynamic. Military should take full advantage of this.”
To learn more about Morton Hall Gymnasium operations and additional opportunities to improve your physical readiness visit the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mwrsubasenlon/
“Some SUBASE Good News” (SSGN) is an effort to provide uplifting stories about the personnel, programs, and initiatives that help make Naval Submarine Base New London, “The First and Finest.”