Story by Lt.j.g. William Mitchell, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11
BIGEJ, Republic of the Marshall Islands – Construction Electrician 1st Class Marc Artache and Builder 2nd Class Derek Howell lead five Seabees in constructing a vital water catchment system to help Marshallese locals sustain a fresh water supply during the dry months of the year.
The structure consists of a concrete block foundation, corrugated roofing, and a PVC piping system that funnels rain water into 1,500 gallon water storage tanks.
On March 15, the project began with the movement of all project tools and materials from Kwajalein to Bigej via a landing craft utility (LCU). The LCU also transported an 11K Skytrak and 420E Backhoe on the shore of Bigej where Equipment Operator 3rd Class Brady Northlee and Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Garrett Jarvis expertly unloaded the required materials to begin the project.
“It was an incredibly unique experience,” said Jarvis. “Unloading materials from a huge boat onto a beach is something I’ll never forget.”
With the beach landing complete, the seven Seabees assigned to Bigej began excavating the site and establishing a stable foundation. Artache is responsible for overseeing all quality control and safety during construction ensuring the project meets and exceeds the high standards upheld by Naval Construction Forces.
“The quality of this project is imperative,’ said Artache. “This construction will establish an important guideline for locals to use to collect fresh water in the future.”
Water is a critical resource throughout the world, and unfortunately, for some in the Marshall Islands, it is not always readily available. Determined, the Seabees of NMCB 11 are working to ensure the population on Bigej will never have this concern again.
“It’s a great honor to be helping the people of this island. We’re happy to be improving their way of life anyway we can,” said Builder 1st Class Joshua Vanblarcom.
Over the next week, the Seabees will continue to construct the water catchment project on Bigej and enhance community relationships in the pursuit of completing their mission in the Marshall Islands.