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Civil Engineer Corps History 

Civil Engineer Corps logo after Navy Regulations changed the color from silver to gold, c. 1919. In 1905, the Civil Engineer Corps adopted two crossed silver sprigs, each composed of two live oak leaves and an acorn as their insignia in lieu of t...

Civil Engineer Corps logo, circa 1919

History is the sum total of an individual accomplishments. If we are, therefore, to know the history of the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps, we must know and understand the men and women that made that history.

Consequently, this collection of historical documents focuses primarily on individuals and their deeds, although organizational developments and individual projects are not neglected -- for without knowledge of the latter there would be no historical context to make comprehensible the former.

In 1798, the newly-established Navy needed a shore establishment to build and maintain its vessels and support its personnel in times of peace and war; this single fact led eventually to the hiring of civil engineers, the establishment of a staff corps of civil engineers, and finally the creation of a Naval Construction Force officered by members of this staff corps.

The following documents will trace the history of the Civil Engineer Corps, through the interaction of men, women, and events, from almost the very origins of the U.S. Navy down to the present. The readers will meet the first civil engineers who built for the Navy, see the establishment of the Bureau of Navy Yards and Docks which would eventually evolve into today’s Naval Facilities Engineering Command, witness the transformation of the Navy's first civil engineers into commissioned naval officers and follow these officers through two major and four minor wars -- one of which saw the creation of the famed Seabees.

The present is an ever advancing line; the events of a second ago are already history. In order to understand where we are, and where we are going, we must know where we have been.


Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820)

Loammi Baldwin (1780-1838)

William P.S. Sanger: The Navy's first civil engineer

The Birth of the Civil Engineer Corps

LCDR Calvin Brown: a most unusual navy civil engineer

CDR Aniceto G. Menocal and the Isthmian Canal

1898: The Civil Engineer Corps takes charge

RADM Mordecai T. Endicott: The first Civil Engineer Corps of the Bureau of Yards and Docks

RADM Harry H. Rousseau and the Panama Canal

RADM Robert E. Peary, CEC, USN: Isthmian Canal surveyor, arctic explorer, and early air advocate

The Twelfth Regiment (Public Works) and the Origin of the Seabees

Tall Towers in France

Remember old “Main Navy”

The Civil Engineer Corps and the "Space Program" of the Twenties

ADM Ben Moreell, CEC, USN: Founder of the Seabees and Shaper of the Modern Civil Engineer Corps

The Civil Engineer Corps and the first Seabees: The mystery of the two “first battalions”

CAPT Wilfred L. Painter, CEC, USNR: A Civil Engineer Corps adventurer in World War II

CAPT John N. Laycock, CEC, USN and the “Magic Boxes” that helped win World War II

Lt Robert L. Ryan, CEC, USNR: welcomes the Marines to New Georgia

LCDR Edward S. Hope, CEC, USNR: A black pioneer during World War II

ENS Lawrence S. Karnowski, CEC, USNR, and Naval Combat Demolition Unit 45

Civil Engineer Corps Prisoners of War (World War II)

Civil Engineer Corps Officer's School (CECOS) 

The Korean War: The Inchon landing, the “Great Train Robbery” and airfield construction

Cubi Point: They moved a mountain - construction of the Naval Air Station Cubi Point

The Civil Engineer Corps at the other pole: Operation Deepfreeze construction

Seabee Team 1104 and the Battle of Dong Xoai

Vietnam: The Civil Engineer Corps puts the construction in!

The Ghost Battalion

Reindeer Station: The Civil Engineer Corps and Seabees on Diego Garcia

Killed in action in peacetime: An occupational hazard of today's military

Afghanistan - Silver Star Presented to Lt. (jg) Francis L. Toner IV


Civil Engineer Corps 100th Anniversary Booklet [PDF, 12.5 MB] 

List of Officers of the Corps of Civil Engineer USN from the Establishment of the Corps in March 1867 to May 1934 [PDF, 5.4 MB] 


Published: Thu Oct 21 17:04:30 EDT 2021