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NAWS China Lake Commanding Officer, Capt. Jeremy Vaughan speaks at ribbon cutting

China Lake opens Religious Facility and Fitness Center

CHINA LAKE Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake (NAWSCL) Hannah Moore–

California – Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake marked a significant milestone in its earthquake recovery rebuilding efforts on Friday, May 5, 2023, as it ‘cut the ribbon’ on the installation’s new Multi-Purpose Religious Facility and Fitness Center, the first of 22 MILCON projects to be delivered by Officer-In-Charge of Construction (OICC).

Four years following the M6.4 and M7.1 earthquakes that struck China Lake on Independence Day weekend 2019, the installation has officially opened the two facilities, representing the construction completion of the $49 million Community Support Facilities contract executed by Soltek Pacific Construction. The new Multi-Purpose Religious Facility and Fitness Center are just two of the MILCON projects included in the $2.7 billion earthquake recovery program being executed aboard Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.

Work to build the Multi-Purpose Religious Facility and fitness center began in early December 2020 with the demolition of the earthquake-damaged gymnasium, All-Faith Chapel and Bennington Theater. In rapid progression, construction crews cleared the work sites of debris, moved tons of earth, and began to place an underground network of pipes and cables to provide utilities to the new buildings. “We at OICC China Lake are ecstatic to deliver these two facilities that will improve the readiness, retention, resiliency, and quality of life for those that live and work aboard NAWS China Lake,” said U.S. Navy Commander Tim James, Executive Officer of Officer-In-Charge of Construction (OICC). Over the last two years, we (OICC China Lake) and our contractor Soltek Pacific Construction have positively contributed to the physical and working landscape across NAWS China Lake and the larger Ridgecrest community.”

Totaling more than 47,000 square feet combined, the facilities provide necessary resources for Sailors, families, Department of Defense civilians, veterans, and beneficiaries to engage in physical and spiritual activities.

“Thank you, Chaplain Michael Taulbee, Chaplain David Brainard, Soltek Pacific Construction, OICC, and NAVFAC Southwest, for your stewardship of this project. Your dedication to the Sailors, families, and workforce of China Lake ensured that this facility offered a bright horizon for us all to look upon. I pray that the new China Lake chapel will serve as a focal point for our community and a source of our strength. This new community services complex offers a physical place for our Sailors, families, and workforce to seek spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. It has been worth the wait!” – U.S. Navy Captain Jeremy Vaughan, Commanding Officer, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.

The Multi-Purpose Religious Facility will provide religious ministerial services such as pastoral care and counseling and ceremonial support services to include: weddings, baptisms, mitzvahs, funerals, military training and command events.

Several members of the Commander, Navy Region Southwest staff were present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This Multi-Purpose Religious Facility gets it right. It is a beautiful structure that speaks to all as a beacon of inclusion and partnership. A facility that truly belongs to All!” – U.S. Navy Commander Jaisen Fuson, Deputy Chaplain, Commander, Navy Region Southwest

“It is my prayer that the All Faith Multi-Purpose Religious Facility will be a beacon of hope for the China Lake Community and that those of all Faiths who enter into this magnificent building will find spiritual strength and resiliency. That it will serve as a place of peace and that the All Faith Multi-Purpose Religious Facility will continue to bring unity and togetherness between the base and the Ridgecrest Communities.” – U.S. Navy Lieutenant David Brainard, Command Chaplain, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake

Anchored by an indoor basketball court and a 25-meter indoor saltwater swimming pool, the new fitness facility boasts additional activities, including racquetball, spin, weightlifting, and group fitness.

“Soltek is extremely proud of the 30+ year relationship we have built with the Navy, and we are dedicated to continuing to provide outstanding performance with a world-class partner.” – Ron Hicks, Vice President, Soltek Pacific Construction.

NAWS China Lake is located in the Western Mojave Desert region of California, approximately 150 miles north of Los Angeles. China Lake’s mission is to support the Navy’s research, testing, and evaluation missions to provide cutting-edge weapons systems to the warfighter. The installation is the Navy’s largest single landholding. In total, China Lake’s two ranges and main site cover more than 1.1 million acres, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.