VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The Navy is eyeing an innovative public-private business model that could change the landscape around Naval Air Station Oceana while generating critical resources for improving infrastructure at the aging East Coast Master Jet Base.
At 78 years old, some of the base infrastructure needs major upgrades, but in recent years funding for the base has decreased, leaving commanders in an unenviable position of having to prioritize what gets attention.
For instance, a 132-room barracks had to be shut down in 2019 because more than two-thirds of the rooms had significant mold. Overall, 60% of the barracks on base are closed for a variety of reasons.
Enter the Future Base Design concept.
It aims to leverage hundreds of acres of underutilized land within the NAS Oceana footprint and allow public-private development opportunities that would generate in-kind considerations for the base, allowing critical sustainment dollars to be more effectively used for the core mission of warfighter support.
“Future Based Design started about three years ago, where we heard from very senior Navy and Department of Defense officials, where they challenged bases like mine to find innovative solutions, and to partner with willing partners to find infrastructure solutions that we can apply locally,” Captain John Hewitt, outgoing Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Oceana, told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.
“Future Based Design is really composed of two principal elements. One is out leasing underutilized property and the other is to have the potential to partner with stakeholders who can provide some of my non-core services,” Hewitt explained.
Those non-core services include recreation and morale activities such as bowling or golf that, while important to Sailors, are not part of the warfighting mission of supporting the squadrons.
The Navy has identified 350-400 acres of potentially developable land around Oceana and has been in talks with the Virginia Beach Economic Development team about future opportunities for that land.