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The Seabees began as regular construction battalions made up of 32 officers and 1079 enlisted men. The construction projects undertaken by the Seabees were not confined solely to building naval installations but they were called upon to construct vital bases for the Army, Marines and for the Allies around the globe. In order to meet these diversified demands, Seabee battalions were composed of four construction companies comprising 224 men representing some 60 different trades. In addition, the battalion complement calls for a headquarters company of 176 men who serve as office workers and specialists. The headquarters company made it possible for the battalion to operate as a self-contained unit.

When three or four battalions were stationed in the same general sector, a regiment was formed with a regimental staff directing the activities of the battalions. The battalion retained its individual identity, handled its own issues, and local work assignments, but through the regimental staff, groups of skilled men were shifted temporarily from one battalion to another to speed high priority construction projects.