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USS Gary gets new small arms locker

Ensign Douglas Baker, USS Gary public affairs

Posted 01/29/2003

YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Some USS Gary (FFG 51) Sailors will soon be trading in their old, low- caliber small arms for newer, more powerful large caliber weapons. With a little ingenuity to the Navy's push towards improving physical fitness onboard U.S. warships, the Oliver Hazard Perry guided-missile frigate has developed the "Gary Small Arms Repair Locker," a former berthing lounge then aerobics room which is now a high-speed muscle-building factory. The revamped compartment sports five new Nautilus-style weight machines.

The new gym, however, had to overcome two obstacles before receiving its final design. With roughly 220 officers, chief petty officers and Sailors onboard, the crew needed a gym that could accommodate the needs of all Sailors aboard Gary. While the ship boasted some Sailors needing to bench small cars for that final max set, other Gary Sailors, while ferocious in their own right, are just beginning their workout and fitness plans. The new gym allows the crew a chance to workout and improve their strength and overall physical fitness.

Since a frigate is designed to carry two SH-60B helicopter detachments, the ship simply doesn't have the space to provide the full range of gym equipment normally available on larger ships such as amphibious vessels or aircraft carriers.

Gary was also faced with ensuring equipment would fit in the identified 13' by 12' space. Gary Command Master Chief CMDCM (SW) Roger Cauley enlisted the help of the experts at Yokosuka Naval Base Wellness Center's MWR Fitness employees, Erin Haggard and Earl Strong.

"In two visits they helped us develop a plan of attack and suggested some machines that would be up to the task of providing a full-body workout with minimal machines," Cauley said.

Within days of a decision, the new equipment appeared on the pier neatly assembled and crated. The cost to Gary: zero, thanks to MWR and the Bureau of Naval Personnel. Gary's physical fitness arsenal now included one leg sled, a bicep/tricep machine, lat pull-down/back and shoulder machine, a leg extension/curl machine and military bench press machine.

Once craned onboard, the new equipment took up temporary residence in Gary's starboard helo hangar until the preparations could be made in the old aerobics room. Senior Chief Electronics Technician Ed Ferber of Buffalo, N.Y., took charge of the endeavor, laying out the floor plan and chipping the deck where necessary for installing equipment retaining studs.

"The new gym is great. It's so much easier to work out without the motion of the ship effecting you. A lot of time the ship rocks and rolls too much to use free weights, so the new equipment really lets you workout no matter what," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Nichelous Bellis of Tampa Bay, Fla. Other Sailors were equally enthusiastic.

"I think it is outstanding. The machines are much safer to use on a frigate than free weights. The appearance of the gym is excellent also," said Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Joshua Robison, a Belle Plaine, Kan., native. "It really shows that the command really cares about fitness and they spent a lot of time and effort for the crew."

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