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This Week in Seabee History (Week of November 5 – November 11)

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

Operation Deep Freeze II Seabees prepare an amphibious tracker supply convoy for a trip from Little America to South Pole Station, 6 November 1956. (Coutesy of Naval History and Heritage Command)

November 5

1945: 9th Naval Construction Brigade inactivated.

1971: Seabee Teams 1019 and 1020 were disestablished. Seabee Teams 1021 and 1022 were established and organized with the 31st NCR Port Hueneme, California.

2004: Rear Adm. Robert L. Phillips, CEC, USN, relieved Rear Adm. Charles R. Kubic, CEC, USN, as Commander, First Naval Construction Division at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Norfolk, Virginia.

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November 6

1942: 40th NCB (Naval Construction Battalion) commissioned at Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

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November 7

1971: Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 arrived at their homeport of Port Hueneme, California. This was the last full battalion to depart from Vietnam. Their departure marked the end of a significant chapter in the Seabee effort in Vietnam, an effort which began at Chu Lai in 1965 and resulted in the construction of approximately $200 million worth of facilities in support of U.S. forces.

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November 8

1942: Seabees encountered their first combat in the European theater of operations when they landed with the assault forces on the beaches of North Africa. The Seabees built facilities at Oran, Casablanca, Safi, and Fedala. Later, as the American Army moved across Africa toward Tunisia and the final showdown with the Germans, the Seabees built staging and training areas along the coast as far as Arzeu. On the west coast of Africa, the Seabees built a huge Naval Air Station in Port Lyautey, Morocco and supplementary air and supply bases at Agadir and Casablanca. Through these later ports poured materials, men, and equipment needed for the coming invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland.

1944: 13th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) inactivated.

1945: 20th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated on Okinawa.

1969: Seabee Teams 1113 and 1114 transferred to NMCB 3 to become Seabee Teams 0315 and 0316, respectively, due to disestablishment of NMCB 11.

1971: Seabee Teams 1021 and 1022 commenced Seabee Team Training.

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November 9

1945: 26th Special NCB inactivated on Oahu, Hawaii.

1965: NMCB 4 transferred to Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMCBPAC) from Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMCBLANT).

1970: NMCB 3 main body flights consisting of three passenger flights and two cargo flights departed Port Hueneme, California and arrived at Camp Haskins South, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1971: 3rd Naval Construction Brigade officially disestablished.

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November 10

1945: 137th NCB inactivated on Okinawa. 16th Special NCB inactivated on Guam.

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November 11

1962: During Typhoon Karen which struck Guam, winds reached 142 miles per hour with gusts of up to 200 miles per hour. The typhoon injured hundreds of people and left nine dead. Damage to U.S. defense facilities reached $200 million. NMCB 5, stationed on Guam at the time of the typhoon, aided in restoring the wrecked island. The shops and much of the equipment of the Seabees had been destroyed, but with what they still had, they worked hard and fast. They erected plywood housing and canvas tents to shelter the homeless, cleared debris from roads and streets, and rebuilt bridges. Seabee electricians raised 1,000 new power line poles and restored light, power, and communications to the island. NMCB 11 arrived in December and a massive reconstruction program was started. By early 1963, Guam’s naval facilities began to look normal again.

1968: An unnamed street in Gulfport, Mississippi was named Engram Drive in honor of Capt. Robert C. Engram, Gulfport Seabee Center commanding officer.

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Mid-November

2001:  The call came for NMCB 133 to provide direct support for Operation Enduring Freedom and an Air Det Heavy was stood up as U.S. Marine led coalition force for offensive operations in Afghanistan. Organized under Brigadier General Mattis, the 1st MEB commander out of Pendleton, the Air Det Heavy went in country on 28 November as Task Force 58.5 with the Operations Officer as the Air Det Heavy OIC being a direct report to the commanding general. The Air Det was organized in two elements, the small lead element of 27 Seabees to go to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Rhino to maintain a dry lake airstrip and provide rudimentary contingency construction and the remainder of the Air Det Heavy to follow on into Kandahar to help establish a permanent operating base by providing Rapid Runway Repair (RRR) and contingency construction.

2005: NMCB 3 turned over with NMCB 133 in Fallujah Iraq and redeployed to Kuwait in order to setup mainbody operations in Kuwait to support of Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) and Area Support Group, Kuwait. NMCB 3 established the new Main Body deployment site from scratch while integrating over 145 personnel from NMCB 21, and 139 personnel from the Army’s 63rd Construction Support Element. NMCB 3 worked with the Army to develop a master plan for what is now the Seabee main body deployment site. While deployed to Kuwait, NMCB 3 successfully completed over 20,000 man days of tasking, and completed 58 tasked projects in direct support of the CFLCC mission.


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