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This Week in Seabee History (Week of August 6 – August 12)

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

Seabee Team 0406 setting the grade on footing forms for Chieu Hoi housing project, Bao Trai, RVN, 1967. (Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

August 6

1945: A U.S. Army Air Force B-29 bomber, called the Enola Gay, took off from North Field on the island of Tinian Island and later in the day dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Honshu, Japan. This was the first time that the weapon, until then held secret, was used for a military purpose. The bomb destroyed over four square miles of the city and brought death or injury to over 160,000 people. Seabees of the 6th Naval Construction Brigade participated in many phases of the operation. When the USS Indianapolis arrived at Tinian from the Naval Weapons Center, Port Chicago, California, Seabees helped with the unloading of the components of the atomic bomb. The Seabees then stored the elements in a shed built by themselves, and they then organized a detachment to guard the shed and its mysterious contents. Scientists assembled the atomic bombs in the shed with several Seabees assisting as handymen. Later, when she started on her mission to Japan, the Enola Gay with her atomic bomb took off from Tinian’s North field which the Seabees had built.

August 7

2015: Capt. Greg Vinci, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Capt. Eric Aaby, CEC, as commanding officer of Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 at Naval Amphibious Base (NAB), Coronado, California.

August 8

1942: 17th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1945: 7th Special NCB inactivated at Advance Base Depot (ABD), Port Hueneme, California.

1949: The 1st Naval Mobile Construction Battalion — NMCB 1 – was activated for use in advance base construction and participation in special task force projects.

1951: The U.S. Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks (BuDocks) Supply Depot, Davisville, Rhode Island, was disestablished. In its place, BuDocks established U.S. Navy Advance Base Depot, U.S. Navy Construction Battalion Center (CBC), U.S. Navy Advanced Base Tactical Training Center, U.S. Navy Advanced Base Supply Depot, and U.S. Navy Construction Equipment Depot, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1952: Establishment ceremony held for NMCB 9 at CBC, Port Hueneme, California.

August 9

1946: 20th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) inactivated.

1967: NMCB 1 vehicle hit by claymore-type mine on Route 1. One man was killed in action, and five men were wounded.

1968: Cmdr. Warren H. Anderson, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Richard D. Coughlin, CEC, as commanding officer, NMCB 71, at Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

2002: First Naval Construction Division (1NCD) commissioned at Naval Air Base (NAB), Little Creek, Virginia, under command of Rear Adm. Charles Kubic. The Division made the Atlantic and Pacific Naval Construction Forces a unified Seabee command for worldwide operations.

2002: Capt. Gary Engle was selected as the first chief of staff of the newly established 1NCD, which was commissioned to lead the Naval Construction Force (NCF) globally.

August 10

1943: ACORN 11 arrived at Noumea. (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.)

August 11

1942: Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC), Davisville, Rhode Island, is commissioned. 18th NCB commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1944: 8th NCB commissioned.

1953: A devastating earthquake on the Greek Island of Cephalonia led to a display of Seabee-Marine teamwork. The commander of the 6th U.S. Fleet ordered 11 Marines and two Seabees from ACB 2 to form a landing party to assist the Greeks in emergency relief operations. The two Seabees were George F. Dyer and Robert J. Gillie. With equipment brought ashore from their ships, the Seabees and Marines first cleared a road from the beach to the village so that Jeeps could bring out the injured. A heavy landslide which blocked the road completely had to be blasted before the Seabees’ bulldozers could start clearing a passage.

1967: Seabee Team 0407 moved from Saigon to Can Tho, RVN.

1968: Seabee Team 0310 with 12 men arrived at Long Kuyen, RVN, while Seabee Team 0311 with 12 men arrived at Can Tho, RVN.

1970: Capt. J.F. Washurn, CEC, was relieved by Capt. K.P. Sears, CEC, as commander, 32nd NCR.

August 12

1942: The 11th NCB was the first battalion to leave the Advance Base Depot, Port Hueneme, California, by ship. The battalion sailed on the SS Japara for Tutuila, Samoa.

1942: The 18th NCB arrived at NCTC Davisville, Rhode Island, for advanced training. It was the first battalion to do so.

1943: 110th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1944: 38th NCR commissioned.

1966: NMCB 133 commissioned, CBC, Gulfport, Mississippi.


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