Base camps were built for the 3rd Marine Air Wing, Marine
Air Groups 11, 13, 16 and 26, and the 1st and 2nd Marine Division.
In Bahrain, NMCB 7 supported the Army and Air Force, as well as
the Marines. The battalion built strongback tents, an aviation
storage facility, a munitions transfer road, and a 60,000 square
foot aircraft parking apron. In December, NMCB 74 relieved NMCB
7 in Bahrain, and the latter battalion moved 200 miles north to
Ras Al Mishab in Saudi Arabia.
Among major projects
completed during Operation "Desert Shield" were a headquarters
complex for the First Marine Expeditionary Force and a 15,000
man camp for the Second Marine Expeditionary Force. The latter
project was the largest wartime multi-battalion Seabee project
since the Vietnam War. NMCB 1, 4, 5 (project lead), 7, 24, 40
and 74 worked on the project. Construction began in late November.
The camp comprised six modules, each capable of housing 2,500
men. Each module contained berthing, office space, showers, toilet
facilities, a galley, roads, and parking areas. The completed
camp complex was dubbed "Wally World."
projects required the Seabees to work seven days a week, two twelve
hour shifts a day. The only days off during the whole period of
Seabee involvement in the Gulf were Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Gulf environment provided an added challenge for the Seabees.
When the first wave of Seabees arrived in August, the heat was
intense, often reaching 1200 F. By the time most of the Seabee
units had arrived in December, the heat had mitigated, daytime
temperatures in the 70's dropping to the 30's at night. The other
major problem was sand: it got into everything and was particularly
hard on equipment.
Operation "Desert Storm," the expulsion of Iraqi
forces from Kuwait began in early 1991. On 16 January 1991 the
Allies initiated a massive air campaign against Iraq. Before it
was over, Allied aircraft flew more than 40,000 sorties against
Iraqi targets. At this time planning went forward for the 3rd
Naval Construction Regiment to move into Kuwait in the wake of
advancing Allied forces to open roads and airfields and provide
immediate battle-damage repair.
In January 1991 the Marines began to move north in preparation
for the expected ground assault on the Iraqis. In support of this,
the Seabees began to concentrate on building and maintaining roads
to serve as the main supply routes throughout northern Saudi Arabia.
After months of constructing
millions of square feet of aircraft aprons, camps for tens of
thousands of Marines, and hundreds of acres of ammunition and
supply points, the Seabees prepared to support the ground assault
into Kuwait. NMCB 5 moved half its strength to Al-Kabrit, 30 miles
from the Kuwaiti border, and began construction of a Naval Construction
Force Logistics Support Base from which the Seabees could provide
the First Marine Expeditionary Force the construction support
needed during the upcoming assault into Kuwait. The top construction
priorities during this period were water, roads, and facilities
for the Marine division assembly areas. Water was obtained by
exploiting already-existing wells, and the Seabees built galley
facilities for the 30,000 Marines of the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions.
A 40,000 man capacity enemy prisoner of war camp was also built.
The most formidable task facing the Seabees was the road network
required by General Schwarzkopf's "End Run" attack strategy.
Spanning more than 30 miles of desert from Al-Mishab to Al-Kabrit,
the "End Run" strategy ultimately required more than
200 miles of roads west and north of the Kuwaiti border. Because
of the need to deceive the Iraqis, much of the construction necessary
had to be done at the last minute. Working in the wettest weather
seen in Saudi Arabia in years, Seabees completed the necessary
construction in approximately two weeks. Thousands of trucks moved
million of gallons of water and fuel, and tons of supplies, ammunition
and spare parts on this road network to support the two Marine
divisions making the assault. By the time the assault was launched,
Seabees were maintaining approximately 200 miles of roads near
the Kuwaiti border. One of these roads was an east-west corridor
from Ras Al Mishab through Al Kabrit, continuing past Al Qaraah
for a total distance of almost 100 miles. This six-lane road was
traversed daily by more than 500 heavy haulers and thousands of
NMCB 5 and 40 relocated to the north and west. From this area,
roads to the border, another well, and a 1,500-foot Remote Piloted
Vehicle runway were built. On the day before the ground assault,
Seabees dug in the 1st Marine Division command element on the
border as the division moved into its attack positions.
On G Day, 25 February 1991, the Allies launched a massive
ground assault against the Iraqis. The next day, an advance party
from NMCB 5 and 24 entered Kuwait to prepare positions for the
First Marine Expeditionary Force command element, and to repair
airfields, maintain roads, and build more enemy prisoner of war
camps. As the Seabees labored at these tasks, the smoke from hundred
of burning oil wells turned day into dark. On 28 February, the
Iraqi, devastated by the Allied attack, accepted a cease fire
and the conflict ended. Construction ceased, and the Seabees returned
to their units just south of the Kuwaiti border. Thus, ended the
largest Seabee military action since the close of the Vietnam
The Gulf War demonstrated the ability of the Naval Construction
Force, both active and reserve, to meet the exigencies of a large-scale
military operation. Not all of the action, however, was in the
Persian Gulf. Approximately 60 percent of the Seabee reserve units
called to active duty were sent to other parts of the world to
replace active-duty units sent to the Gulf early in the conflict.
OPERATION "PROVIDE COMFORT"
The Seabees, however, were not finished in Southwest Asia.
Following the Iraqi defeat, the Kurdish minority living in northwestern
Iraq rebelled in an attempt to win independence. The Iraqi government
responded harshly and a gigantic refugee problem developed as
hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled their villages into the mountains.
The United Nations intervened to protect the Kurds and an Allied-occupied,
protected enclave was established around Zakho, Iraq. A relief
operation, Operation "Provide Comfort," was launched
to provide facilities for the refugees until they could return
to their villages.
On 11 April 1991, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133,
deployed at Rota, Spain, was ordered to send its Air Detachment
to Zakho. This was followed on 22 April with orders for the battalion
to recall all its details and to redeploy its main body to Zakho.
While in Iraq, NMCB 133 was under the tactical command of the
U.S. Army 18th Construction Brigade, consisting of the U.S. Army
94th Heavy Engineer Battalion, a British Army engineer squadron,
a Dutch engineer battalion, and several smaller U.S. Army logistical
units. NMCB 133's camp was established in a walled compound which
was also the headquarters of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit
and the 18th Engineer Brigade. The Seabees were immediately over-tasked
and went to a 12-hour day schedule, providing support to the refugee
camps in the area. Work consisted of latrine construction, electrical
and water-well support, road grading, forklift support, berm construction,
wash-rack construction. In general, the work could best be described
as emergency service relief work.
It was originally anticipated that the Seabees would remain
at Zakho for three months. It turned out, however, that they were
able to leave after only eight weeks because during that period
upwards of 300,000 Kurds were convinced that it was safe to return
to their homes. The displaced persons camps near Zakho which had
held as many as 60,000 Kurds at the midpoint of the deployment,
saw this number drop to less than 15,000 by the time NMCB 133
In December 1990 a reserve unit, Naval Mobile Construction
Battalion 23, which had been recalled to active duty on Guam to
replace an active-duty battalion sent to the Gulf War, provided
disaster relief in the wake of a severe hurricane, one of the
strongest to hit Guam in recent years.
OPERATION "FIERY VIGIL"
On 15 June 1991 Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted and
poured more than two cubic kilometers of ash and sand over a 30-mile
radius. This eruption was characterized as one of the most violent
of this century. Within the radius of the eruption was the Subic
Bay U.S. Naval Complex and Clarke Air Force Base. The eruption
was followed by Typhoon "Diding" whose torrential rains
saturated the ash and sand, creating dangerous roof loads and
many other problems. Thus began Operation "Fiery Vigil."
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3, and Construction
Battalion Maintenance Unit 302, and Public Works Center civilians
provided disaster relief in the form of temporary shelter for
those rendered homeless on the base. They also provided temporary
power and emergency water supplies, and cleared roadways, and
aircraft runways. A ship returning from Operation "Desert
Storm" with Seabee equipment was diverted to Subic Bay and
provided much needed equipment. A pre- positioned ship, carrying
equipment for a Marine Air Ground Task Force, was also brought
in. The damage was so severe that 20,000 dependents at Subic Bay
and Clarke Air Force Base were evacuated from the area in the
days following the eruption. Some 400 Seabees from Naval Mobile
Construction Battalion 4 on Okinawa were sent to Subic Bay to
help with the cleanup. Within 100 days, the Seabees demolished
more than 50 heavily-damaged structures and, removed 250,000 tons
of ash, cleared 900,000 square yards of aircraft paving and 75
miles of roads, restored 35 miles of overhead power distribution
lines, cleaned and restored 750 air conditioning and refrigeration
units, and erected 25 replacement buildings. Working with Public
Works Center employees, the Seabees played a critical role in
the rapid recovery of the Subic Bay naval complex.
Since the establishment of the Seabee Reserve after World
War II, active and reserve Seabees, while frequently serving together,
were part of two separate organizational structures. In July 1992
this changed when active and reserve Seabee units were integrated
into two Naval Construction Brigades, under the operational control
of the Commanders in Chief of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.
The Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Atlantic
Fleet; the Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific
Fleet, and the 1st Reserve Naval Construction Brigade were disestablished.
In their place were established the 2nd and 3rd Naval Construction
Brigades. In addition, two new regiments were established: the
22nd Naval Construction Regiment under the 2nd brigade and 30th
Naval Construction Regiment under the 3rd brigade. Thus, each
brigade had two active regiments and six reserve regiments. The
2nd Naval Construction Brigade assumed operational control of
three regiments, eight battalions, one Naval Construction Force
Support Unit, and one Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit.
In like fashion, the 3rd Naval Construction Brigade assumed operational
control of three regiments, seven battalions, two support units,
and one maintenance unit. When U.S. forces departed the Philippines
in late 1992, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 302 was
relocated to Camp Covington on Guam. It was disestablished there
on 20 July 1994.
OPERATION "RESTORE HOPE"
In 1992 famine struck Somalia. The country had been beset
by a long period of civil war which left the central government
fragmented and weak. By late 1992 almost 1,000 individuals, many
of them children, were dying of starvation daily. Although relief
supplies were pouring into Somalia, they did little to help. Armed
gangs divided the capital and controlled the road system. The
food was stolen or misdirected before it could reach those for
whom it was destined. The U.N. decided to send in a military force
to restore order. U.S. military units formed part of this coalition
force and embarked upon Operation "Restore Hope." The
Seabees went ashore to provide construction support to the U.S.
contingent. The primary Seabee tasking was to provide vertical
construction support to U.S. and coalition forces establishing
base camps at each of the humanitarian relief sites. This including
building heads, showers, tent decks, strongback tents, and kitchens.
Seabees were also to repair and improve the main supply routes,
which included bridge repairs and shoulder grading to widen roads.
Wells were drilled and a seven-room school house was also constructed.
The largest project was at the Baidoa airstrip which deteriorated
as C-130 relief flights increased in the early part of the operation.
This project involved removing 300,000 square feet of asphalt
surface, pulverizing and mixing it with portland cement, and then
grading and compacting the mixture. More than 600,000 square feet
of AM2 matting was also laid for aircraft turnarounds, parking
aprons and helopads.
On 10 December 1992 Amphibious Construction Battalion 1 arrived
at Mogadishu as part of the Naval Support Element in Somalia.
Within a short time ACB 1 unloaded five of the U.S. Marines' Maritime
Pre-positioning Force ships, refurbished the port, and provided
fuel and water for military forces in Somalia.
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 and 40 began deploying
to Somalia on 10 December. Within 30 days both battalion main
bodies had arrived. The 30th Naval Construction Regiment (Operational)
was activated to provide command and control for the two deployed
battalions. By the end of December, Seabees from NMCB 1 were convoying
personnel and equipment to Baledogle, Bardera, and Baidoa to effect
airfield repairs and improvements and construct base camp facilities
for the deploying U.N. coalition forces. The Seabees arrived in
Baledogle on 31 December and joined forces with Marines from Marine
Support Wing Squadron 372 to establish landing and staging areas
for CH-53 helicopters and a taxiway and turnaround pad for C-130
aircraft. The Seabees used 240,000 square feet of AM2 metal matting
to construct the facility. Near Bardera, Seabees from NMCB 1 restored
a water source to a refugee camp by installing a new pump on the
bank of the Jubba River. Seabees from NMCB 40 completed Operation
"Clean Sweep" in Mogadishu, which consisted of removing
debris (trash and car hulks) from critical areas of the city.
They also prepared a site for a 300-bed Army evacuation hospital
and installed 90,000 square feet of airfield at the Mogadishu
airport. NMCB 40 participated in the amphibious landing at the
Port of Kismayo. They quickly completed repairs to the Kismayo
airfield, which allowed the rapid deployment of follow-on coalition
forces to that city. Finally, the Seabees provided construction
support for President George Bush's visit to Somalia on 1 January.
In addition to their tasking in support of the coalition forces,
the Seabees carried out numerous civic action projects in support
of the Somali people during the course of Operation "Restore
By the end of March 1993, the Seabees had successfully completed
their support of Operation "Restore Hope" and returned
to their previous deployment sites or their home ports.
OTHER SEABEE ACTIVITIES IN THE EARLY
The Seabees celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1992. Special
celebrations and ceremonies in Washington, DC, and at the construction
battalion centers, and other Seabee activities marked the year.
There was an especially large number of Seabee unit reunions that
year which brought together veterans from all the wars in which
the Seabees had served since their inception. In addition to the
celebration, the Seabees continued to perform their normal duties,
among which was disaster relief.
Hurricane "Andrew" struck Dade County, Florida,
on the morning of 24 August 1992 inflicting extensive damage.
There were few deaths, but more than 100,000 people were left
homeless. More than 800 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction
Battalion 1, 4, 14, Amphibious Construction Battalion 2, and Construction
Battalion Unit 410, 412, 419, and 420 provided disaster relief
by repairing government buildings and approximately 270 schools.
In 1993 the Seabees participated in a number of events. The
2nd Naval Construction Brigade was involved in the planning process
for potential peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia.
The 2nd brigade and an air detachment from Naval Mobile Construction
Battalion 7 were involved in the United Nations mission in Haiti
that year. Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4,
5, and 7 played a major role in the counter-narcotics program
in South America. Finally, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion
3 participated in disaster recovery efforts on Guam in the wake
of an 8.1 earthquake.
In 1994 Seabees provided a wide variety of support including
work for the United Nations field hospital in Zagreb, Croatia;
water well drilling teams to Morocco and Honduras; and nation-building
and joint training exercise support to Surinam and the Dominican
Republic. Seabees also participated in the incursion into Haiti.
Specifically, Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 supported U.S.
forces deployed to Port-au-Prince. At the Naval Station, Guam,
Seabees carried out extensive repairs to the Victor Wharf, which
had been damaged badly during the earthquake of the previous year.
In September and October 1995, during the most active hurricane
season in history, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 carried
out disaster relief assistance to the stricken islands of Antigua,
St. Thomas, and St. John, after Hurricanes "Luis" and
"Marilyn" savaged the eastern Caribbean. That same year,
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 sent a disaster relief team
to Kobe, Japan, after an earthquake struck that city. The Seabees
set up tents and cots at seven different sites, providing shelter
for victims of this tragedy.
HAITIAN AND CUBAN MIGRANT SUPPORT
The highest profile effort of the Seabees in 1994, however,
was the support provided to Haitian and Cuban migrant efforts.
This support grew in scope and extended into 1995. At first, 40
Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 (deployed to
Puerto Rico) were sent to the U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, to augment the public works department there. The evacuation
of civilian employees from Guantanamo and the increased support
required by Joint Task Force 160 that had been established there
to oversee the migrant operation necessitated this movement. Next,
a Seabee air detachment was dispatched from Puerto Rico to construct
camps at Guantanamo for Haitian and Cuban migrants. Another air
detachment was deployed from Puerto Rico to Grand Turk for the
purpose of constructing additional camps and subsequently was
redeployed to Guantanamo Bay to assist with the growing tasking.
Additionally, Seabees supported Operation "Safe Haven"
by constructing camps for Cubans migrants in Panama.
The main effort in Cuba was Operation "Sea Signal"
during which Joint Task Force 160 constructed facilities to improve
the quality of life of migrants at Guantanamo. By order of the
2nd Naval Construction Brigade, the 22nd Naval Construction Regiment
(Forward Element) deployed to Guantanamo in December 1994 with
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 and an air detachment from
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7. As directed by the U.S.
Atlantic Command, the senior leadership of the 22nd Naval Construction
Regiment (Forward Element) met with engineers from the Naval Facilities
Engineering Command's Atlantic Division to develop preliminary
designs for the $35 million Quality of Life Improvement Program
for 20,000 Cuban migrants.
The original plan called for the construction of 37 migrant
villages arranged in 11 village clusters at two locations: Radio
Range and McCalla Field, approximately seven miles apart. Migrant
riots in Panama led to a decision to return 7,000 refugees to
Guantanamo Bay; this resulted in both an accelerated construction
schedule and an enlargement of project scope for the Seabees.
A detachment from the Air Force's 820th Red Horse construction
unit was mobilized from Nellis Air Force Base to assist the Seabees.
When the project concluded the two tent cities constructed were
capable of housing almost 20,000 people. This multi-national,
joint-service work-force completed an astonishing 100,000 man-days
of construction effort in a harsh environment while scheduling
their construction projects around the migrants and their daily
All engineering assets of Joint Task Force 160, including
358 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, 70 Seabees
from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7, 85 Air Force engineers
from the 820th Red Horse Squadron, 65 Army engineers, 24 Marine
Corps engineers, 93 reserve Seabees on Active Duty for Special
Work, 45 active-duty augment Seabees, and 500 Cuban workers reported
to the 22nd Naval Construction Regiment (Forward Element). The
Seabees operated in a joint- command environment: they berthed
and messed in an Air Force camp, reported to an Army command,
the Joint Logistics Support Group, and served under a Marine brigadier
general who was joint task force commander.
After numerous scope changes, the final product consisted
of two cities on separate 125 and 150 acre sites. Work in place
included the erection of 1,341 strongback tents, 67 concrete block
buildings, installation of over 17 miles of underground piping
and 53 miles of electrical cable, batching and placing 11,700
cubic yards of concrete, and the operation of 311 pieces of Civil
Engineer Support Equipment in excess of 72,000 hours and 390,000
In July 1995 Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5 relieved
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 at Guantanamo. Naval Mobile
Construction Battalion 5 completed 23,000 man-days of total effort,
finishing the $1.6 million, 30,000-meal per day, migrant galley
in only 29 days and designing and constructing a 5,200 square
foot stage for a televised MTV concert. Naval Mobile Construction
5 oversaw the Naval Construction Force withdrawal from Guantanamo,
transporting $13 million worth of construction equipment and supplies
off the island.
BOSNIA AND CROATIA SUPPORT
Throughout 1995 the 2nd Naval Construction Brigade maintained
a high state of alert for potential Seabee involvement in Bosnia.
As part of the relief operations in the former Yugoslavian republics,
the 2nd Naval Construction Brigade provided an officer to augment
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees staff. This
officer functioned as Engineering and Infrastructure Officer and
served in a strictly non-military capacity assisting humanitarian
In support of Joint Task Force "Provide Promise,"
in March 1995 a 35-person team from Naval Mobile Construction
Battalion 3 successfully brought to a close the Navy's turn at
providing public works maintenance and operations functions at
the Joint Fleet Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia.
In October the brigade sent a staff officer to the headquarters
of Allied Forces, South, in Naples, Italy, to help finalize the
NATO operations plan for Bosnia. Liaison Officers from Naval Mobile
Construction Battalion 133 were dispatched to the 26th Marine
Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS WASP and to several locations
in Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, and Germany.
At the start of 1996 a 170-person detail from NMCB 133 was
deployed at the Sava River crossing at Zupanja, Croatia, constructing
the first and highest priority tent camp of the entire Joint Endeavor
Implementation Force (IFOR) operation. This deployment, which
began in December 1995, marked the largest Seabee airlift in recent
times and was the first deployment of Seabees utilizing the Air
Force's C-17 aircraft. After expending 14,900 mandays constructing
five tent camps and numerous sustainment projects, the detail
redeployed to Rota, Spain, on 2 March 1996. The 2nd Naval Construction
Brigade maintained a high state of alert for potential Seabee
involvement in the disestablishment of many of these tent camps.
In September 1996 NMCB 40 continued the mission in Bosnia.
A total of 334 personnel with 226 pieces of Civil Engineer Support
Equipment (CESE) deployed to Bosnia on 21 September to disestablish
fourteen base camps and complete nineteen force sustainment projects,
expending 9,600 mandays in the effort. This marked the largest
deployment of Seabees in recent history.
NMCB 40 was midway through a seven-month deployment to Camp
Mitchell in Rota, Spain, when it was ordered to Bosnia. The above-cited
CESE equipment and an additional 100 shipping containers were
transported aboard the SS WILSON to Livorno, Italy. From Livorno
the battalion moved via seven trains to an intermediate staging
base at Taszar, Hungary. From there the battalion moved in four
road convoys, escorted by military police, through Croatia, and
down to Colt Base in Bosnia. NMCB 40 accomplished the entire move
in three weeks from the time orders were received. In Bosnia NMCB
40 was under the orders of the Task Force Eagle Engineering Division.
The battalion ultimately employed more than 400 Seabees in the
U.S.-led Multinational Division North to tear down base camps
as part of a withdrawal of U.S. Army troops from the region. Aside
from disestablishment operations, the battalion was tasked with
a variety of collateral projects, including road maintenance on
main supply routes and snow and ice removal. Additionally, the
battalion built a bypass road and a container laydown area in
Bosnia; and a ammunition handling area in Croatia. Finally, with
the deployment of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division to the theater,
NMCB 40 was tasked to prepare for sustainment engineering projects
at two base camps that were to remain as consolidation sites in
SEABEE TRAINING IN THE LATE 1990s
Engineer Training-96 (Senegal). JET-96 was an exercise which
involved 42 Seabees from NMCB 133, 12 personnel from U.S. Army
3rd Special Forces Group, and 35 Senegalese Military Engineer
Soldiers. The combined forces completed the construction of a
classroom, three barracks buildings, and renovations to an existing
5,000-square-foot operations building. The project site was located
on the Senegalese Infantry and Air Force Training Center in Thies,
Senegal, and will support U.S. troops in future Joint Combined
Exchange Training (JCET) exercises.
Peaceful Eagle-96 (Albania). To support this JCS exercise,
NMCB 40 deployed 39 personnel to Rinas and Biza, Albania. This
Detail completed 6 tension fabric structures, 24 burnout latrines,
two 15-foot observation towers, 3 pedestrian bridges, 16 shave/wash
stations, and numerous other small projects. This project was
done in conjunction with Army engineers from the Southern European
Task Force (SETAF) and provided a tremendous opportunity for service
Baltic Challenge-96 (Latvia). BC-96 was the first of
the annual In the Spirit of, Partnership for Peace exercises to
be conducted in the three Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania,
and Estonia. Conducted in Latvia, Seabee tasking entailed the
renovation of a three-story barracks left in disrepair. In a short
timeframe NMCB 40 deployed 43 personnel to complete this tasking.
The detail completed this mammoth task in time for the 500 exercise
participants to use the barracks for berthing.
Dynamic Mix-96 (Turkey). NMCB 40 deployed 43 personnel
with 33 pieces of CESE and camp sustainment equipment to support
DM-96. This Detail completed a 15,000 square foot Harrier landing
pad under arduous conditions. In addition, two water wells were
driven for the purpose of supporting the Turkish Air Base. These
personnel were deployed directly to Bosnia in support of Operation
Joint Endeavor after the tasking was completed.
New Horizon 96 (El Salvador). NH96 - ES consisted
of deploying 46 active-duty personnel from NMCB 7 and 18 reserve
personnel from NMCB 14 to El Salvador from January 1996 through
March 1996. The detail drilled two water wells, constructed a
base camp at La Montana, and constructed a two-room school.
Carib Series/St. Lucia (St. Lucia). The Carib
Series exercise in St. Lucia consisted of 38 active duty
personnel from NMCB 7, 25 active-duty personnel from UCT 1, 24
reserve personnel from NMCB 26, and 16 reserve personnel from
NMCB 24. The detail conducted renovations to existing St. Lucia
Coast Guard Station, constructed a small boat pier, addition of
a boat repair facility, and conducted renovations to Forestiere
Carib Series/St. Vincent (St. Vincent). This exercise
consisted of 41 active duty NMCB 7, 24 reserve personnel from
NMCB 26, and 24 personnel from NMCB 24. The Detail constructed
two-story personnel support facility at St. Vincent Coast Guard
in Calliaqua and conducted renovations at local community center.
Fairwinds 96 (Haiti). This exercise consisted
of 57 active duty personnel from NMCB 7 deployed to Haiti from
February 1996 to June 1996. The detail repaired two schools, constructed
one K-Span building, converted 30 strongback tents into Seahuts,
and installed septic tank with leach field.
In August 1996 NMCB 7 redeployed to Haiti with 35 personnel to
begin construction of a 5.5 mile by-pass road. In September 1996
NMCB 74 relieved NMCB 7 with 40 personnel to continue road construction.
PEACETIME CONSTRUCTION OPERATIONS
NMCB 5, 7
and 74 deployed their main bodies to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.
Detail sites were located at Andros Island, Bahamas; Vieques Island,
Puerto Rico; G uantanamo Bay, Cuba; Norfolk, Virginia; and Rodman,
Panama. NMCB 7 additionally deployed personnel to Atlanta, Georgia,
in support of JTF-Olympics and to Fort Know. Detail site Rodman,
Panama, was closed by NMCB 7. NMCB 133 and NMCB 40 deployed their
main bodies to Rota, Spain, with details to Sigonella, Italy;
Souda Bay, Greece; Naples, Italy; Edzell, UK; St. Mawgan, UK;
and Thurmont (Camp David), Maryland. The battalions completed
over 28,000 man-days of construction during the calendar year.
Seabees from NMCB 1 built two mosques on Guam to support the
religious needs of approximately 2,100 Kurdish evacuees. The mosques
were modified seahuts built of plywood and two-by-fours. NMCB
3 was involved with a number of taskings on Guam and at several
other detail sites from the western U. S. to Diego Garcia in 1995.
While on Guam the battalion's main body participated in Exercise
Kennel Bear, the deployed field exercise for NMCBs operating in
the Pacific Naval Construction force area of operations. The battalion
main body completed a firing maze and was working on K-span buildings
for Special Warfare Group One. Battalion members also operated
the concrete and asphalt batch plants at Orote Point.
On Diego Garcia NMCB 3 constructed housing for contractors
hired by the base. Battalion personnel also made repairs to the
chapel and the library.
The NMCB-3 detail Southwest Asia installed camp lighting and
a loading ramp in Doha, Qatar.
At the Naval Air Station, Fallon, Nevada, NMCB 3 personnel
constructed a recycling compound and a supply warehouse.
A 70-person detail was posted in the San Diego area, working
on projects at the Naval Air Station North Island, Naval Amphibious
Base Coronado, and Naval Air Station San Diego. Seabees in these
southern California areas stayed busy with a host of taskings
aimed at improving fleet readiness and quality of life for sailors
Nearly two years have passed since NMCB 5 last occupied Camp
Shields, near Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japan. As part of their
normal rotation cycle, NMCB 5 arrived on island to relieve NMCB
4 in the role of providing construction support to the region.
During the deployment, NMCB 5 constructed several projects
at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Kadena Air Base and the Marine
Station and Camp Schaulb. The Seabees were also be tasked with
building a retaining wall at White Beach and a seawall at Awase
in addition to continuing the road improvement project at the
Northern Training Area and various other Commanding Officer discretionary
projects in the local area.
The unit will be deployed to the region for seven months with
detail sites at Sasebo, Iwakuni, Yokosuka and Atsugi, Japan; Pohang,
Korea; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Battalion also has a Deployment
for Training (DFT) unit in northern South Korea and a Civic Action
Team on (CAT) the island of Pohnpei. NMCB 5 continued to demonstrate
outstanding support to fleet activities.
NMCB 4 completed
its 1996 Pacific deployment in September. While deployed, the
Battalion was headquartered at Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan, and
maintained details in Sasebo, Iwakuni, Yokosuka and Atsugi, Japan;
Pohang, Chinhae, Osan and Kwang-Ju, Korea; Hawaii; and Adak, Alaska.
During its deployment, the battalion was responsible for a
significant number of construction projects that will benefit
the customer activities for years to come. On Okinawa the Seabees
constructed a building addition for the Marines of Camp Futenma,
installed an underground water main at the White Beach Recreation
Area, and made major progress on a road construction project at
the Marines Northern Training Area.
Operation "Cobra Gold." Long after U.S. Soldiers,
Sailors, Marines and Airmen packed their gear and departed Thailand
following Exercise Cobra Gold `96 closing ceremonies, the impact
of their visit on the Thai people will endure.
Six South Malay Peninsula villages were recipients of Cobra
Gold `96 Engineering Civic Action Projects (ENCAP). Each project
consisted of a generic building design modified to meet the needs
of a particular community. The 8 by 20 meter buildings included:
two child care centers; a school cafeteria; a craft center; and
a school auditorium. At two of the sites, latrines were built
in addition to the main project. Construction took about three
weeks each. The 3rd Naval Construction Brigade oversaw the six
projects along with 91 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Engineers and
50 Thai military construction engineers. There were 54 Seabees
involved in the exercise, 14 from NMCB 18, 38 from NMCB 4, and
37 Marines from the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, Okinawa.
The projects were grouped into three northern projects in
Nakhon Si Thammarat Province and three projects in Shingkhla Province
to facilitate supporting the sites with food, water and building
supplies. The projects were selected from Thai nominations based
on budget, ability to support village need, and engineering training
value. The total cost of all the projects came to about $175,000,
including the material and labor value. The funds were provided
by U.S. Commander in Chief, Pacific (USCINCPAC), under the Humanitarian
and Civic Assistance Program. All materials were purchased from
Because of fairly primitive conditions in many of the villages,
the engineers faced an eye opening experience in working and living
in harsh field conditions. At the Ban Rai construction site, they
were challenged by the oppressive heat, torrential rains and knee-deep
mud, which combined to cause several days of setbacks. But these
hardships were more than offset by the Thai's hospitality.
Six Thai villages received new buildings their entire communities
can use and appreciate for years to come. For the engineers, they
departed Thailand with a keen sense of accomplishment and a feeling
of having made a significant contribution to the welfare of the
villagers they met during their time in Thailand.
The Seabee deployment
to the former Yugoslavia and routine deployments, training exercises,
and civic action projects were characteristic of the 1995-1996
period. With the Cold War over, by the late-1990s the Seabees
were involved in providing support to various United Nations undertakings,
participating in Navy and joint-service training exercises, and
performing disaster relief and civic action. No matter what the
situation, however, you can be sure of one thing: when the toughest,
dirtiest, meanest, most impossible construction jobs in the world
come up, the Seabees will be sent because they "Can Do!"