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2012: Anniversary of 70 CAN DOs

Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Port Hueneme, Calif., Naval History and Heritage Command.

Construimus, Batuimus
“With compassion for others, we build, we fight,  for peace with freedom.”

The 36th NCB personnel repair the Piva bomber strip with Marston matting after a severe shelling, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, March 8, 1944. Creator/photographer: 36th NCB

Presently, we celebrate March 5, 1942, as the Seabee birthday. However, the “real” birthday was once a matter of conjecture. Several events, each providing a different date and supporting historical documentation, highlight a plausible “beginning” of the Fighter Builders. As a matter of fact, the original ‘Bee birthday was Dec. 28, but it was deemed too close to the Marine Corps birthday, as well as Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Here’s a recap of all contenders…

Iconic image of Seabees unloading concrete bucket at Cubi Point Naval Base, circa early 1950s. Photo: 30th NCR

 

October 31, 1941: In response to a request by the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation directed the formation of a Headquarters Construction Company of 99 men for duty in Iceland. These men, combined with four other companies, formed the core of what would be the Bobcats and the First Naval Construction Battalion.

December 28, 1941: The Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks sent a formal request to the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation outlining the creation of one Naval Construction Regiment of 3,300 officers and men.

March 5, 1942: The Chief of the Bureau of Navigation approved the designation of Construction Battalions as “Seabees” and authorized the use of the Seabee insignia on major items of equipment.

March 19, 1942: The Secretary of the Navy gave the Civil Engineer Corps Officer in Charge of a Construction Battalion authority over all officers and men assigned to his unit.

On the basis of the criteria established, March 5 was selected as the official birthdate since it was technically the date the Navy approved the “Seabee” name and insignia. It was also the anniversary of the Civil Engineer Corps which allowed both to be celebrated simultaneously. The new birthday was celebrated for the first time on March 5, 1955.

Can Do!

Seabees assigned to NMCB 133 tear through a plywood floor as they help restore Hope Haven, a children's abuse shelter, Waveland, Miss., in support of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Photo: PH2 Michael Sandberg

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Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command

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