Home / COVER FEATURE / This Week in Seabee History (March 11 – March 17)

This Week in Seabee History (March 11 – March 17)

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

WW2 Seabees LST
Seabees assigned to the 113th Naval Construction Battalion unload Tank Landing Ship 717 (LST 717) on White Beach in Mindoro, Philippines in February 1945. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

March 11

1941: A manufacturing and assembly plant for Quonset huts was established at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

1945: Many times in the Second World War the Seabees were called on to do odd jobs of an urgent and extemporaneous nature. These jobs were dictated by the demands of combat operations. When the German lines in France were breached, the United States Army asked the Seabees to operate landing craft, pontoon causeways, and rhino ferries to help breach the Rhine River Barrier. The Naval Construction Force (NCF) accepted the challenge on March 11, 1945. The task was assigned to detachments from CBMU 627, 628 and 629. At ports in Normandy, the Seabees loaded their landing craft and pontoons on mammoth trucks and hauled them across France and the German borderlands to the Rhine River. The Rhine’s swift and tricky currents had baffled armies since the time of Julius Caesar. However, the Seabees made the crossing with comparative ease. They first crossed the Rhine at Bad Neuenahr near Remagen. On March 22, Gen. George S. Patton put his armored forces across the Rhine at Oppenheim in a frontal assault which swept away the Germans. The Seabees participated in the operation. In addition, the Seabees built pontoon ferries similar to their famous Rhino ferries to move tanks across the river in pairs. In all, the Seabees operated more than 300 craft as ferry service which shuttled thousands of troops into the heart of Germany.

1968: Seabee Teams 0310 and 0311 were transferred to Commander, 31st NCR for Seabee Team Training prior to deployment to the RVN.

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March 12

1963:  The village elder who recruited labor for Seabee Team 0502 in Chau Doc Province in the Republic of Vietnam was assassinated by the Viet Cong and his mutilated body left at the team project site.

Mar. 12-16, 1966: NMCB 1 main body arrived at Da Nang, RVN.

1967:  Seabee Team 0805 returned to the continental U.S. from Vietnam for leave before rejoining the battalion.

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March 13

1946: 53rd Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) arrived at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands to take part in Operation Crossroads. Operation Crossroads was the Department of Defense’s first large-scale atomic weapons research testing program. The 53rd NCB built observation towers, piers, communication towers, and general facilities to prepare the site. The battalion dredged the lagoon of Bikini to allow ships to enter and anchor for the bomb blast. It also built a recreational area for the members of the Armed Forces engaged in the testing. Thus, Seabees were used to build a facility that helped to usher in the Atomic Age.

1972: Seabee Team 0415, under Lt. C.D. Christopher, departed Palau and returned to Port Hueneme four days later.

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March 14

1966: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 arrived in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN), the first Atlantic battalion to take part in the war, deployed by direct airlift from Davisville, Rhode Island to Da Nang, which was now standard transportation for incoming and outgoing Seabee battalions. Its primary tasks during this tour of duty were the construction of the Camp Haskins complex for the 30th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) headquarters (later to also house the 3rd Naval Construction Brigade with its transfer to Da Nang from Saigon in August 1967), a Seabee battalion camp, and a cantonment for the Force Logistic Support Group. In addition, detachments constructed a light antiaircraft Hawk missile installation and installed three large concrete box culverts at Chu Lai.

2008: A renaming ceremony was held March 14 2008 to unveil Seabee Betty Drive, the main street transiting Camp Covington on Naval Base Guam, in honor of the late Vicenta Chargualaf Peredo, affectionately known as “Seabee Betty.” Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 Seabees, officers, family and friends were on hand to recognize and honor the many acts of kindness Peredo provided to deployed Seabees over the years resulting in strengthening bonds between military members and the local community.

 

A renaming ceremony was held to unveil Seabee Betty Drive in honor of the late Vicenta Chargualaf Peredo. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

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March 15

1942: 1st NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1945: ACORN 27 decommissioned. (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 World War II, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island, and Majuro.)  Also on this date, the 147th NCB was commissioned at NCTC Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1966: NMCB 58 commissioned at Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Davisville, Rhode Island with Cmdr. Ward W. DeGroot, III, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), as commanding officer.

1967: NCMB 1 advance party consisting of 107 personnel deployed to Da Nang, RVN on two C-141s from Naval air Station (NAS) Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

1969: Capt. J.E. Powell, CEC, relieved Capt. J.R. Fisher, CEC, as commander, 30th NCR.

1970: Camp Rhodes, Quang Tri, Republic of Vietnam, closed by NMCB 74 Detail Alpha. Camp Rhodes, named in honor of Lt. Joseph J. Rhodes, CEC, USNR, was officially dedicated on September 18, 1968.

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March 16

1968: Seabee Team 5802 deployed to a new employment site at Soc Trang, RVN.

1970: Seabee Teams 0103 and 0104 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Vietnam for reassignment to NMCB 1;  NMCB 5 main body departed the continental United States (CONUS) by air for Camp Haskins North, Da Nang, RVN.

 

16-26 March 1970 – NMCB 5 main body departed CONUS by air for Camp Haskins North, Da Nang, RVN.

 

1971: Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for deployment to Keflavik, Iceland.

1972: Seabee Team 13308 disestablished.

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March 17

1943: Camp Allen and Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia disestablished.

1969: NMCB 8 main body deployment from CBC Port Hueneme, California to Camp Haskins South, Da Nang, RVN via Air Force MAC charter aircraft.


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