Story by MC1 Collin Turner, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11
GULFPORT, Miss. – Seabees assigned to the 54-man U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 detachment that deployed from Gulfport, Mississippi to Naval Support Activity Panama City, Florida to provide much needed support following Hurricane Michael were a prime example of the ‘Can Do’ nature of Seabee spirit.
Air Force Captain Chad Colocar, the officer in charge of NMCB-11s Air Detachment, led the task-tailored response package in their relief efforts.
“I am honored and at the same time excited to lead Seabees for this mission,” said Colocar. “It is not every day that Seabees get to take part in hurricane relief efforts, and for many of them this may be their first time.”
The detachment of Seabees were prepared to respond within a 48-hour window, and convoyed more than 250 miles to the Florida installation with 18 pieces of rolling Civil Engineering Support Equipment (CESE), two 924G loaders, an excavator, as well as various other supplies and equipment they would need for the task at hand.
Upon arrival, the ‘Bees’ as they are commonly known, got right to work providing initial damage assessment in conjunction with the base Public Works Officer. Priority tasking was determined and the ‘Bees quickly went to work removing trees and other debris from vital access and perimeter roads that line the base.
“Getting this base back up and running is a top priority, without this base the contractors coming to assist the local community won’t have a place to base their operations,” said Ensign Brett Renaker, assistant officer-in-charge.
In addition to getting the base cleared, the Seabees also constructed a make shift galley within 24 hours of their arrival. The galley could support up to 150 service members, contractors, and base support staff per day.
“We are here to support the Seabees and contractors working on base,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Billy Adams. “We do that by providing a clean, professional galley experience so that the workers supporting the hurricane relief efforts have a comfortable place to rest, eat and recharge.”
In order to keep everyone aiding in the relief efforts hydrated, the Seabees setup a Lightweight Water Purification System (LWPS). LWPS is a modular, highly transportable, self-contained water purification system capable of purifying up to 75 gallons of salt water, and 125 gallons of fresh water per hour.
“We are truly appreciative of the community’s support of our mission,” said Colocar. “It’s great knowing that we are able to assist NSA Panama City.”
Homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi, NMCB-11 is part of the Naval Construction Force (NCF). The NCF is a vital component of U.S. Maritime Strategy, and is comprised of deployable battalions capable of providing contingency construction, disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance, and combat operations support.
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