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Seabees leave lasting impression, impact on Enniburr

By CECN Sarah Coker, NMCB 133, and Nikki Maxwell, USAG-KA Public Affairs

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Utilitiesman 3rd Class Kyle Carriere, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133, looks on as Steelworker Third Class Dylan Beveridge, assigned to NMCB 133’s Construction Civic Action Detail (CCAD) Marshall Islands, receives a hug from a grateful resident in Enniburr, Marshall Islands, July 29.  Local residents held a ribbon cutting ceremony to show appreciation for the Seabees’ contributions and to celebrate the completion of the Enniburr Water Tower and Shade Pavilion.  (Photo by Nikki Maxwell, U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll Public Affairs)

Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 Construction Civic Action Detail (CCAD) Marshall Islands, finished their deployment with a bang, as the team celebrated the completion of the Enniburr Island Pier Water Tower and Shade Pavilion during a ribbon cutting ceremony, July 29.

In attendance were Marshallese Senator Alvin Jacklick, Minister of Foreign Affairs John Silk, Mayor of Kwajalein Atoll, Hirata Kabua, U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll (USAG-KA) Commander Col. Michael Larsen , Deputy Garrison Commander Jennifer Peterson, Command Sergeant Major Angela Rawlings, and Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Liaison Lanny Kabua.

“On behalf of the Marshallese people, I would like to thank the Seabees who worked hard to accomplish this very important mission, and provide humanitarian assistance to us,” Jacklick said. “The first day the Seabees stepped foot on this island they were traditionally welcomed, and they always will be welcome here.”

He then thanked the garrison team for their support of the project.

“Col. Larsen and your staff, you have done a very good job in helping the mayor of Kwajalein Atoll find ways to immediately provide assistance that we really need in our community,” Jacklick said.

Enniburr Island, commonly referred to as “Third Island,” is a small remote island on the northern end of the Kwajalein Atoll. It is approximately 300 by 400 meters in size, and home to more than 1,000 Marshallese people. Resources are scarce, and there is no running water or electricity. During the drought season, their only source of potable water is delivered from the neighboring island of Roi-Namur. Ferries deliver 4,500 gallons of potable water to Enniburr daily.

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USAG-KA Garrison Commander Colonel Michael Larson (front row, second from right) and Detail OIC Lt. j.g. Alex Liu (front row, right) stand with the NMCB 133 CCAD Seabee team and local dignitaries during the ribbon cutting ceremony in Enniburr, Marshall Islands, July 29. (Photo by Nikki Maxwell, U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll Public Affairs)

“Here is one more example of the special relationship between the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the United States of America,” Larsen said. “Without the dedicated workforce of the wonderful people of Enniburr, there is no way we can successfully execute that important mission on Roi-Namur.”

Then he turned toward the Seabees seated on the pier.

“You’re looking at some of the finest patriots that America has to offer, with these fine Seabees here. And without their expertise and dedication, none of this could have been possible.”

As the crowd clapped and cheered, Larsen continued.

“I’d like to thank each of you for what you’ve done for this community, and for the strategic relations between the RMI and USA,” he said. “I have a saying: ‘Through rain or sunshine, we are in this together.’ And what better way to demonstrate that than this shade structure that will help protect these people from the rain and sun.”

Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, residents of Enniburr hosted an appreciation feast and dance to thank the Seabees for their measurable impact on the local community.

The Enniburr Water Tower is the single receiving point of potable water and is crucial to the island’s water distribution. During each docking, Roi-Namur ferries pump water directly into the water tower. Water is then funneled by gravity into inland cisterns where residents can fill up on their weekly rations. The old water tower endured years of corrosion and sustained extensive structural degradation from rust. Seabees of CCAD Marshall Islands took on the vital mission to construct a new 1,500-gallon water tower that is safer and more efficient.

Marshallese residents of Enniburr make up 40 percent of the Roi-Namur workforce. They play a key role in daily operations, including construction, maintenance, transportation, logistics and support services. Approximately 100 Marshallese workers commute to Roi-Namur daily using the Army ferry. To improve their daily commute, the Seabees constructed a 48’x 24’ pre-engineered pavilion to provide cover against natural elements. The new pavilion shelters Enniburr commuters from the blazing sun and drenching rain, while they wait for the ferry.

The Seabee team encountered numerous challenges during their mission. The crew transported more than 60,000 pounds of materials over 50 miles of open water. They operated large construction equipment in confined areas, seamlessly dissembling old structures and erecting new ones. The crew operated on a flexible schedule to accommodate ferry dockings and pedestrian traffic, minimizing disruption to daily pier operations. They accomplished the job with limited access to food, water, and shade. They conducted operations with extreme caution, as safety was paramount and medical support was not immediately available.

“We were excited to take on such a dynamic mission,” said Detail Officer in Charge Lt. j.g. Alex Liu. “The logistical planning and project management was undoubtedly very challenging. Our Seabees were tested every day to come up with innovative solutions to solve complex problems.”

Since the completion of the Enniburr Pier projects, five Marshallese apprentices have landed jobs on Roi-Namur based on referrals from the CCAD.

“One of the men approached me almost in tears thanking us continuously for the opportunity. It was incredible to see how much of an impact we can make here,” Project Crew Leader Steelworker Third Class Dylan Beveridge said. “It was a pleasure working alongside the apprentices; and as much as the crew helped train them, the crew also learned a lot from them.”

CCAD Marshall Islands built a close bond with the people of Enniburr. Not only did they improve the island’s quality of life, they created new opportunities that are changing people’s lives.

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USAG-KA Garrison Commander Colonel Michael Larson addresses the Seabees during the ribbon cutting ceremony in Enniburr, Marshall Islands, July 29. Afterwards, Enniburr residents showed their appreciation for the Seabees’ contributions and celebrated the completion of the Enniburr Water Tower and Shade Pavilion. (Photo by Nikki Maxwell, U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll Public Affairs)


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