US NAVY'S TIGHT BUDGET INCLUDES ROLLER RINK

US NAVY'S TIGHT BUDGET INCLUDES ROLLER RINK

The Navy's budget crunch may squeeze the 600-ship fleet into oblivion, but the service will be getting a mobile roller-skating rink complete with skates and a hi-fi outdoor sound system, Navy officials said Tuesday.

Secretary James H. Webb Jr. quit Feb. 22 to protest Pentagon penny- pinching that cut the Navy budget by $12.3 billion and sacrificed the goal of 600 ships. But on Tuesday, Navy officials confirmed that they're about to spend up to $20,000 for skaters.The officials said that the recent bid request published in the government's buying directory seeking a mobile roller-skating unit will provide needed recreation for Navy families stationed at the Naval Air Development Center in Warminster, Pa., just outside Philadelphia.

The Navy wants to buy an 8-by-14-foot trailer chock full of 204 pairs of boot-style roller skates with outdoor wheels in assorted juvenile through adult sizes, along with 600feet of braided yellow rope and marker cones that can turn any parking lot into an instant roller rink.

To add to the atmosphere, the Navy wants the trailer to be equipped with a sound system with cassette deck, amp, microphone, and roof-mounted high- fidelity speakers.

Nobody's ever asked for anything like this before, acknowledged Patsy Schaffer, a Navy recreation official at the development center, which employs nearly 3,000 people who research Navy aviation matters.

Ms. Schaffer said the Navy strives to provide recreation facilities for its personnel and their families near Navy housing. They could go to a regular rink, she said. But we like to provide things that are close to home so they don't have a transportation problem. The rink initially would be set up amid Navy housing at the development center, and its use would be restricted to military families.