|Entertainment and recreation are important to provide the staff with incentives. To this effect, the Navy High Command permanently develops attractive recreational programs that are put into practice at the four clubs managed by officers and men/women. One is for officers and three for servicemen.
Institutional and private receptions are carried out at different times, and so the clubs are equipped with modern audio visual equipment and electronics. They have sufficient ventilation and capacity to accommodate an impressive number of guests.
Conspicuously tall and sparkling in white colour, on a small hill stands the imposing Officers' Mess block, facing the seaside next to the Kenya Navy Headquarters.
This mess is exclusively for use by the Kenya Navy officers and offers different recreational facilities for the Naval officers. Standing next to it is an equally imposing extension which acts as an annex for the accommodation of junior/single officers. These junior officers are allocated a messing furnished cabin together with the allied services. Visitors are offered dining and barbecuing services. Besides, it has a circuit for television and music.
The Officers Mess as an institution was first started by the British Navy in the Eighteenth Century. One Commanding Officer (CO) of one of the ships proposed that all officers eat and drink together at a designated place, with each officer paying in proportion to daily subsistence allowance, so that young officers did not get burdened with excessive expenditure. This proposal was unanimous approved, and continues to this day across the world as a custom wherein officers eat and drink together. Since the officers were eating together, the world "mess", based on the Latin word "missus" meaning course at a meal placed on a table, was used to describe their grouping.
The Officer's Mess aboard ships is called the Wardroom, while ashore it is a Mess. In this connection, it is important to remember that in the Naval structure, commissioned establishments ashore are also referred to as ships. The Wardroom indeed has a special significance in the life of a naval officer. The important duty of every member is to preserve the values of the wardroom and to contribute in building a strong and healthy spirit. The mood of the wardroom is infectious and quickly spreads throughout the ship and is best explained by the adage "A happy Wardroom is a happy Ship".
An Officers Mess has two main functions. For single officers who live in the Mess, it serves as a home where they eat and drink and entertain relatives and friends. For married officers on the other hand, the mess serves as a social club, where they can gather for moments of relaxation and quiet talk with their brother/sister officers. In addition, it also serves as the center of the social life of a unit.
OFFICERS' MESS TRADITIONS
The Kenya Navy messes have strong traditions and customs which instill loyalty and cooperation amongst officers, particularly the younger ones. Ordinarily, the officers' mess influences every aspect of an officer's life, serving to mould his/her character, and teaching him/her correct code of conduct. Senior officers are expected to set good examples to their juniors and ensure they are properly guided.
The mess is run by a Mess Committee constituted to regulate the functioning of the mess. The Committee has powers, born out of tradition, to impose punishment or fines upon other officers, or lay down restrictions necessary for congenial life together. The mess committee under leadership of the Chairman enforces discipline and provides the standards to emulate.
The traditions of hospitality and decorum in an officers' mess is as old as the mess itself. For instance, any woman entering the mess is treated with utmost courtesy. The mess takes pride in the availability of larger variety of drinks so as to be able to meet the choice of its members and guests. Respect in accordance with seniority in ranks is strictly followed. Caps are removed and hang on the specified pegs.
The conversation is always conducted in pleasant tones and controversial and/or forbidden subject such as religion, politics and habits of senior officers are never discussed. Smoking is prohibited inside the mess. Actions of misdemeanor such as improper dressing can easily attract a hefty fine for the offending officer.
In order to preserve some links with the past and enable officers to dine together, every mess has some special functions such as Ladies Night, Guests Night, Mess Night, etc. At these functions those invited mess together while freely mingling with the rest of the guests. In the event of an officer desiring to celebrate a particular happy event such as a promotion or a marriage, he or she may, with prior approval of the Chairman of the Mess Committee (CMC) host a party.
Historically, such event was treated with pomp whereby when an officer got married, his ship hoisted a garland between the masts to indicate the event, and all officers onboard attended the wedding function in ceremonial uniform. After the service, the bride and the groom walked out under an arch of crossed swords held by brother officers lining both sides of the passage and standing as smartly as they would on parade, symbolizing that all on board would defend the well-being of the newly weds. The wardroom would also welcome the couple to dinner and formally welcome the new bride as a member of the fraternity.
WARRANT OFFICERS AND SENIOR NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS MESS
It is exclusively for the use of the military staff in the institution. It offers recreational facilities for Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. As members of the Naval Mess these servicemen have access to the different services and facilities offered at their premises.
CORPORALS AND SAILORS CLUB
For the junior ratings, an ultra-modern building was erected which serves several purpose including housing the Kitchen, Dinning Room, Corporals Club and Sailors Club. Popularly referred to as "Kasarani" due to its imposing feature.