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This Week in Seabee History (Week of July 9-July 15)

Port Hueneme, California, April 1944. Two years earlier on July 15, the 7th Naval Construction Battalion left Advance Base Depot, Port Hueneme, for San Francisco, the first battalion to stage through this location. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

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

July 9

1942: The 12th NCB was commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1967: At a dedication ceremony, the NMCB 9 campsite was named in honor of Utilitiesman Plumber 2nd Class James Miller, who was mortally wounded on February 6, 1967.

July 10

1943: The Seabees introduced their secret weapon on the beaches of Sicily: the famed magic boxes, steel pontoon sections which revolutionized the strategy of amphibious warfare. The German and Italian defenders were dug in along the northern coastline of Sicily where the best beaches were located. There was only one thing wrong with the German strategy. They had not heard of the new development for joining pontoons to form invasion causeways. Capt. John N. Laycock, CEC, developed a method to join pontoons together by angle iron and bolting pads so that a string of these connected pontoons became a solid structure of cantilevered integrity. On July 10, 1943 the Allied armada appeared off the southern coast between Scoglitti and Licata, and sent infantry ashore across long strings of steel pontoons. Other pontoon structures constructed by the Seabees included the rhino ferry and the landing tug. Each was made by simply putting together a couple dozen pontoons and an outboard motor.

1945: The 6th Special Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated at Oahu, Hawaii.

1951: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 was activated.

1958: When dissident elements in Lebanon threatened to overthrow the government of that country, the U.S. 6th Fleet cruising in the Mediterranean was sent to Beirut to establish and maintain order, at the request of the Lebanese government. Seabees of Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 2 attached to the fleet participated in the action with their pontoon causeways when U.S. Marines landed, and again when the Marines re-embarked several months later. The men of ACB 2 not only participated in the landings, but the battalion’s Beach Salvage Teams also reclaimed broached boats and swamped vehicles, and improved beaches and roads. In addition, the Seabees in Lebanon built a road from the beaches to the Beirut airport.

July 11

1944: ACORN 10 was decommissioned.  (Used during World War II, an ACORN was a tailored unit designed to carry out the rapid construction and subsequent operation of a landplane and seaplane advance base. Each ACORN had a construction battalion attached to it, as well as trained personnel to operate the control tower, field lighting, aerological unit, transportation, medical, berthing and messing facilities. A Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) also accompanied each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn. During the war, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island and Majuro.)

1945:  The 73rd NCB was inactivated on Peleliu.

July 12

1966: NMCB 4 advance party departed Chu Lai for the continental U.S. (CONUS).

1968: Capt. Charles C. Heid, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Cmdr. Paul R. Gates, CEC, as commander, 21st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR).

1968: NMCB 3 relieved NMCB 121 at Camp Faulkner, Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1972: Camp Hill, an advanced base training camp, was dedicated in honor of the late Capt. James M. Hill Jr., CEC. The camp is situated on a 575-acre plot of land under lease to the Navy in the DeSoto National Forest, 15 miles north of the Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Mississippi. Hill was a former commanding officer of the Center.

July 12-20, 1968: NMCB 3 main body arrived at Camp Faulkner, RVN, by government aircraft.

2010: Cmdr. La Tanya Simms, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Dean Vanderley, CEC, as commanding officer, NMCB 4, at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Deh Dadi II, Afghanistan.

2013: Capt. Eric Aaby, CEC, relieved Capt. Richard Whipple III, CEC, as commanding officer of ACB 1 at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, California.

July 13

1942: The 13th and 14th NCBs were commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1965: NMCB 7 boarded USNS General Simon B. Buckner in Davisville, Rhode Island, and arrived in Rota, Spain, 13 days later.

1968: Seabee Team 5801 deployed from Chau Phu to Camp Haskins North, Da Nang, RVN.

July 14

1943: 106th NCB (Section I) commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1944: ACORN 15 decommissioned; the 89th NCB was inactivated at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1968: Cmdr. F.H. Lewis Jr., CEC, relieved Cmdr. E.H. March, CEC, as commanding officer, NMCB 133.

July 15

1942: The 7th NCB left Advance Base Depot, Port Hueneme, California, for San Francisco, California. This was the first battalion to stage through Port Hueneme.

1944: Construction Battalion Military Unit (CBMU) 613 was established in the Azores from the men of the 96th NCB. Also, the 33rd Special NCB was commissioned at NCTC Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1945: 26th NCB inactivated in Alaska, and remaining personnel re-designated CBMU 634; the 2nd Special NCB inactivated on Guam.

1950: NMCB 3 activated.

1966: NMCB 40 advance party arrived in Chu Lai to relieve NMCB 4.

1970: Construction Battalion Unit (CBU) 402 established at Pensacola, Florida.

1971: CBU 414 established at Naval Submarine Base (NAVSUBBASE), New London, Connecticut.

2010: Cmdr. Mike Saum, CEC, relieved Cmdr Stan Wiles, CEC, as commanding officer, NMCB 1 at NCBC Gulfport, Mississippi.


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