By Jack Barnwell, Rocketeer II, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake
Seabees from Naval Construction Group 1 Detachment China Lake conducts training with Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 on mobile concrete batch plant operations on board Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
If it’s built to last in a remote duty station with only raw resources, there’s a chance that it was done by Seabees.
For the 12 Seabees and eight civilian maintenance contractors assigned to Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1 Detachment China Lake, a lot of the training for that kind of work is done in Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake’s back yard.
“We have five different pipelines here: concrete batch operations, asphalt batch operations, rock crushing, reclamation crushing, and wash plant operations,” said Senior Chief Equipment Operator (SCW) Brian Bellefeuille, NCG 1’s officer in charge.
While NCG 1’s flagpole is at Port Hueneme in Ventura County, California, the mineral products training facility is located at NAWS China Lake.
The mineral products site at China Lake allows for personnel throughout the Naval Construction Force (NCF) to receive the training needed to succeed in the missions we face today.
“It’s very cool having the mineral products schoolhouse here at China Lake, because we need the big open space in a remote location that can handle a lot of dust and noise,” Bellefeuille said.
Seabees from battalions homeported both at Port Hueneme and Gulfport, Mississippi come to China Lake for training on the big machines.
“We train in mineral products, the byproduct of blasting. Blasting teams would go into the mountains and blow them up which would result in piles of rocks ranging from three or four feet in dimension,” Bellefeuille said. “We would later bring the boulder sized rock to our mineral production site and crush it and use it to repair things like roadways and runways.”
According to Bellefeuille, training sessions are two weeks long per platform, which involves the ability to establish a mobile quarry in a remote location and turn out a refined product.
“If a runway were ever to get destroyed during a time of war in the middle of the Pacific, or anywhere for that matter, we would be able to go there and repair it rapidly to get the birds back up into the air,” he said. “This is a huge 42-acre sandbox with the biggest construction equipment we have in NCF. We go out there, get dirty, make big rocks into little rocks, with the end result being good quality asphalt and concrete.”
What’s produced at China Lake during the training sessions doesn’t go to waste either.
“We make this product and give it back to the base, and the base can use it for various projects throughout their facilities,” Bellefeuille said.
EOCS (SCW) Brian Bellefeuille, officer in charge of Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1 Detachment China Lake, tours the Seabee mineral products training site located at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Feb. 2. The site allows NCG 1 to train personnel in concrete batch operations, asphalt batch operations, rock crushing, reclamation crushing, and wash plant operations. (Photo by Jack Barnwell/Rocketeer II)