More than 2,000 recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island soon will have a new place to call home while they endure the depot's grueling 12-week training regimen.
Parris Island and Navy officials celebrated the unveiling Friday of an $85 million barracks complex and a $21 million dining hall across the street from the barracks.
The barracks will house the 3rd Recruit Battalion, whose drill instructors and recruits will move in next month, depot officials said. The battalion was in some of the depot's older facilities, most of which were built in the 1960s.
Col. Eric Mellinger, commanding officer of the depot's Recruit Training Regiment, said the new barracks were badly needed.
"This battalion could only train a limited number of recruits because they had limited space," Mellinger said. "With the new building, we now have the ability to train upwards of 550" more recruits.
The barracks were built by Walton Construction of Harahan, La., which was awarded the contract in 2008. The project was the largest single military construction project in Parris Island history, and the barracks can sleep more than 2,100 recruits, depot officials said.
The new complex consolidates nearly 10 barracks throughout the depot into four centrally located buildings, which will help drill instructors make the most of the time they spend with recruits, said Brig. Gen. Frederick Padilla, the base's commanding general.
"Time is precious to us here at Parris Island," Padilla said. "... So if there's something we can do to save time in recruiting training, we're all about that. This will do it for us."
When it opens next month, the new mess hall will feed recruits from the 2nd and 3rd battalions and the support battalion.
Built by Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. of Raleigh, N.C., it can feed 6,000 recruits and more than 140 support personnel per meal, depot officials said.
Both projects are LEED-certified, a system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to reduce environmental impact.
"Very shortly, these buildings ... will be part of the history and part of the DNA of the Marine Corps and these Marines," said Navy Capt. Jonn Heinzel. "When these buildings come online (next month), those Marines won't ever know the old buildings or the dilapidated barracks."