Sailors who live in unaccompanied barracks at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, will be locked out of their rooms if they fail random inspections, the senior enlisted leader for the base has announced.

A note from Command Master Chief Angelo Rappa posted on Reddit says that sailors will have to contact a chief petty officer or commissioned officer, collectively known as “Khaki leadership,” before they can enter their rooms to clean them.

“If a room is found to be unsat during random UH [unaccompanied housing] staff inspections, the room will be locked and residents will not be able to regain entry until they return to the front desk with Khaki leadership from your patent command,” Rappa’s note says. “The Khaki leader will stay with the resident until the room is cleared by UH staff.”

The brief note does not explain what sailors should do if they are unable to locate one of their superiors.

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Kelly Wirfel, a spokeswoman for Naval Station Norfolk, confirmed to Task & Purpose on Wednesday that the note is authentic.

The move resulted from several sailors failing room inspections, Wirfel said on Wednesday. Unaccompanied Housing employees determined that the sailors had not followed “clear and concise room standards,” she said.

“The issues mainly focused on cleanliness of the rooms,” Wirfel said. “Food items left out that could attract insects, dirty dishes piled in the sinks, appliances not cleaned, spoiled food in the fridge. Mainly focused on the overall sanitation and cleanliness of the rooms. All those who failed inspections were in clear violation of room standards.” 

The reason why a chief petty officer or commissioned officer needs to stay with sailors until the rooms are cleaned and deemed to be satisfactory is so that the sailors understand the importance of keeping their living spaces clean, Wirfel said.

When asked what sailors should do if they are locked out of their rooms after hours and cannot find a superior, Wirfel said that all unaccompanied housing buildings are manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“If a Sailor is unable to find someone in their Chain of Command, Unaccompanied Housing staff can assist,” she said.

Unsanitary conditions in sailors’ rooms can pose a health hazard, in part because sailors could be called to their ships for several weeks, said Navy veteran Jenna Carlton. Having dirty dishes and spoiled food in the rooms for that long could attract pests.

Locking sailors out of rooms when they fail inspections will put pressure both on the sailors themselves and each command, said Carlton, a former petty officer second class who served in the Navy from 2013 to 2017.

“No Khaki is going to want to sit there while you clean your room,” Carlton said. “I am guessing individual commands will probably start doing their own inspections to ensure it doesn’t get to the level of them being locked out.” 

Congress has been taking a closer look at the conditions at troops’ barracks as the military branches have acknowledged problems with service members’ living quarters, especially unaccompanied housing. The Government Accountability Office issued a report in September that found widespread problems in military barracks, including mold, cockroaches, and water and sewage problems.

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