USO in a Box: A Mobile Recreation Center

CAMP LEMMONIER, Djibouti - Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Chevere, equipment operator, Seabees water well team tower leader, tows the USO in a box onto Camp Lemonnier March 12, 2010. The USO in a box, a self-sustaining morale center with game systems, entertainment and internet access, arrived here Dec. 6 and will be used by the Seabees during their missions to Ethiopia. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Holland-Tuve) CJTF-HOA Photo CAMP LEMMONIER, Djibouti - Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Chevere, equipment operator, Seabees water well team tower leader, tows the USO in a box onto Camp Lemonnier March 12, 2010. The USO in a box, a self-sustaining morale center with game systems, entertainment and internet access, arrived here Dec. 6 and will be used by the Seabees during their missions to Ethiopia. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Holland-Tuve)

It comes in a box the size of a small living room, the Expandable Light Air Mobile Shelter is designed to fit everything from X-Boxes and a surround sound theater to wireless high-speed internet and satellite phones. The USO in a box will build morale and provide recreation to Seabees when they deploy to dig wells and build schools as well as other construction missions.

"It's great because it provides a satellite connection to home," said Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Holland-Tuve, logistics specialist. "They have satellite phones and high-speed Internet connection back home."

The mobile recreation center expands to 15 x 20 feet and is 8 feet tall. Once setup, it comes complete with three X-Box 360 gaming systems and 10 games, three 23" high-definition flat screen TVs, two Dell fully-rugged laptops with Wi-Fi capability, a wireless router and two satellite phones. There is also a movie theater area with a DVD player, more than 20 popular DVD's and surround sound.

The unit also has heating and air-conditioning, making it fit for any environment and it has the option to be powered by gas generators or powered locally.

"The most we ever had the tank filled was halfway and it ran a good 13 hours on that," said Holland-Tuve. "It's also got the capability to run on shore-power."

The new mobile recreation center was built in Cadillac, Mich., flown in from Ramstein in December and was initially in a testing phase while Seabees expanded it to make sure everything operated properly.

"They found a need for it here in theater," he said. "We had a couple generator parts replaced. The USO is great. We just sent them pictures and they sent replacements within a couple of weeks."

Seabees fall under Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and their work directly contributes to the overall mission of forging friendships and building stability, helping Africans solve African problems.

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