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This Week in Seabee History (Week of July 23 – July 29)

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

The front cover of the July 29, 1966 edition of the first Seabee Courier. (Photo by Brian Lamar)

July 23

1943: 111th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

July 24

1940: Rear Adm. Ben Moreell approves plans for Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, Rhode Island. This will later become the first home for the Naval Construction Force in 1941.

Admiral Ben Moreell was the chief of the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks and of the Civil Engineer Corps. Best known to the Seabee’s as Father of the Navy’s Seabees or the King Bee.

1944: Tinian was invaded by United States Marines, accompanied by the 18th and 121st Naval Construction Battalions (NCB). The Seabees brought their bulldozers and pontoon causeways ashore on D-Day. Because Tinian’s narrow beaches were covered with low coral cliffs, Seabees devised and operated special movable raps called Doodlebugs. These Doodlebugs made the landings possible.

1967: Lt. Cmdr. J.E. McNeill, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Lt. Cmdr. T.F. Stallman, CEC, as executive officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4.

1967: Seabee Team 7101 departed Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam (RVN) for Davisville, Rhode Island for formal Seabee Team training.

1971: Seabee Team 0108 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Palau, Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) for reassignment to NMCB 1.

July 25 

1943: The 90th NCB was activated at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1945: The 49th NCB was inactivated on Guam.

2014: NMCB 74 was decommissioned at Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Gulfport, Mississippi.

EQCM Helen Daniel, command master chief, and BU1 Jonathan Olds, NMCB 74, case the battalion’s colors during a decommissioning ceremony on board NCBC Gulfport, Miss., July 25. Seabees from all eras attended the ceremony, including retired Cmdr. Gordon Schley, commanding officer of the battalion at its recommissioning in 1966. Photo by CE2 Courtney Demastus

July 26

1965: NMCB 4 was relieved by NMCB 7 in Rota, Spain.

1967: Lt. Cmdr. W.R. Glover, CEC, arrived at NMCB 1 Camp Haskins to relieve LCDR R.S. Stedman, Jr., CEC as NMCB 1’s executive officer

1971: Seabee Team 0109 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Kusaie, TTPI for reassignment.

July 27

1942: 15th NCB was commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1967: NMCB 11 was holding a change of command ceremony at the Dong Ha Forward Combat Base in Vietnam, which had been dedicated to the memory of Senior Chief Equipment Operator Donald J. Barnes, who had been killed in action at Khe Sanh. During the ceremony, attended by many senior naval officers and distinguished guests, a reception for the new commanding officer usually followed a change of command ceremony, but in this case, the custom had to be set aside. Barely half an hour after the ceremony began, enemy forces dropped about five mortar rounds onto the base. After the first round exploded, members of the battalion and visitors ran for the nearest hole. This is significant because it undoubtedly was the first time that a Seabee brigade commander, Captain Albert Marschall, CEC, and six of his battalion commanders shared the same mortar hole during an enemy artillery attack. Thankfully, there were no casualties.

1967: Cmdr. W.K. Hartell, CEC, relieved Cmdr. W.L. Wilson, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 11.

1970: Seabee Team 0105 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for reassignment to Officer in Charge (OIC), Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific Fleet Detachment (CBPACDET) RVN and deployment to Bac Lieu, RVN.

2002: Members of Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 rushed to Somerset, Pennsylvania to assist in the rescue of nine coal miners trapped 240 feet underground. The Seabee divers provided transportable recompression chambers and emergency evacuation hyperbaric stretcher to safeguard the miners once recovered. Click here for the full story. 

July 28

1943: ACORN 10 arrives at Noumea, New Caledonia. (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.)

1971: UCT 1 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for deployment to Naval Ammunition Deport, Earle, Colts Neck, New Jersey.

1989: NMCB 62 was decommissioned at CBC, Gulfport, Mississippi.

July 29

1943: The 12th NCB was commissioned at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1944: The 12th NCB was inactivated at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1966: Cmdr. Anson Perkins, CEC, relieved Cmdr. David Feinman, CEC, as commander of the 21st NCR.

1968: Second increment of NMCB 22’s advance party, consisting of three officers and 25 enlisted personnel, departed Camp Haskins North, RVN for CBC, Davisville, Rhode Island.


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