Fort to graduate first Navy chaplain class

Fort Jackson's role as the Army's largest training center will take on a new dimension Friday, when the Navy graduates its first class from the post's new chaplain center.

Creation of the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center was one of two recommendations by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission that led to the creation of about 600 more jobs at the Columbia post.

Over the summer, the Navy moved its chaplain school to Fort Jackson from Newport, R.I. The Air Force also has moved its chaplain school to Fort Jackson from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

The Air Force won't graduate its first class until February, a spokesman said.

The panel, commonly referred to as BRAC, also called for the Army to consolidate its three drill sergeant schools at Fort Jackson. That move was accomplished in 2008.

To make room for the Navy and Air Force chaplain programs, an $11.6 million construction project is under way at Fort Jackson.

The new facility, located next to the Army's chaplain center, will include a 45,800 square-foot building and a 300-seat auditorium.

The Navy's first class at Fort Jackson, though, will hold its graduation ceremony in the drill hall of the Naval Operations Support Center, also located on the Army post.