Story by Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs
Seabees assigned to NMCB 3 assemble the ramp of a Mabey Johnson Bridge as part of their Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) Nov. 7, 2016, at Fort Hunter Liggett, California. The FEP prepares and tests the battalions ability to enter hostile locations, build assigned construction projects and defend against enemy attacks using realistic scenarios while being evaluated by NCG 1. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Gomez/161107-N-YG415-088)
FORT HUNTER-LIGGETT, Calif. (NNS) — More than 500 Sailors assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 battle tested their capabilities during a field training exercise (FTX) at Fort Hunter-Liggett throughout November.
NMCB 3 is homeported at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme. Their FTX tested the battalion’s ability to enter hostile locations, build various construction projects, defend against enemy attacks, and improve their airfield damage repair (ADR) capabilities. The battalion’s motto “Better than Best” was put to the challenge and the Sailors participating in the FTX exceeded and gained valuable knowledge, as well as lessons learned to carry with them on their future deployment in 2017.
When the Sailors assigned to NMCB 3 arrived at Fort Hunter-Liggett in early November to begin their nearly month-long exercise by transforming an empty lot into a functioning base camp complete with galley, laundry facilities, showers, various vertical and horizontal construction buildings, and other administrative and support functions.
“You don’t prepare overnight, this FTX is a culmination of five and a half months of preparation,” said Cmdr. Laurie Scott, commanding officer, NMCB 3, who described the value of this type of training to bring together the entire battalion.
“This exercise helps our Sailors get back to the mentality of why we build and why we fight,” said Scott, who added when his battalion of nearly 550 personnel deploys next year many of his men and women will do so in small details to continue strengthening vital relationships critical to peace and stability in the Pacific. “Our battalion will deploy to Okinawa, Japan and we will fan out to 14 to 17 different sites across Western Pacific.”
Scott added that he often provides briefs to various Seabee Veterans groups located in Port Hueneme and he communicates how the current generation of Seabees is carrying the Fighting Seabees tradition.
“Just like in previous generations when our Seabees deploy around the world, whoever they work with, when they see a Seabee patch they know they are in good hands,” added Scott.
In addition to force protection and establishing a defensive perimeter, Seabees also participated in Airfield Damage Repair training.
NMCB 3’s Lt. j.g. Stephen Kash, operations officer for the FTX, discussed the importance of ADR training.
“For the first time, in this exercise we are using a variety of different material and taking a different approach instead of using a lot of heavy equipment with heavy debris, we are using quick setting material,” said Kash.
NMCB 3’s Chief Petty Officer Philip Anderton, formerly a drill instructor at U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, was proud of his junior enlisted troops for their toughness and initiative shown throughout the exercise.
“We put a lot on our E4s and E5s to make good and sound decisions and they are doing fantastic,” said Anderton, who added “if you show your troops you believe in them, they will do their very best to meet your expectations.”
Anderton added that some of the Sailors he trained as recruits are now assigned to NMCB 3 and participating in the FTX.
“Some of the Seabees I trained in Great Lakes are now serving in the battalion,” said Anderton, who added it was nice to see these Seabees and see the end result of his training efforts.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Shianne Chlupacek served as the crew leader during the construction of a 10×20 bunker used during the exercise.
“There are so many good things we learn during this exercise,” said Chlupacek, who supervised a team of eight Seabees in constructing the bunker which took nearly 10 hours to build. “I always learn something when I do another project.”
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Bachicha, who serves as the military advisor for NMCB 3, was impressed with the capabilities of the Seabees.
“I didn’t know that they did it all,” said Bachicha, who is assigned to the battalion for two years.