By Ens. Paul Naquin, NMCB 40
NMCB 40 ‘Bees return home to Point Mugu, Calif. from a nine-month deployment to Okinawa, Japan, and 11 detachment sites. This is the final deployment for the battalion which is scheduled for disestablishment in September. Photo by MCC Daniel Pearson
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 40 returned in July from a nine-month deployment to the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) area of responsibility. While returning for deployment may not be especially newsworthy, in this case it is. This is the final deployment for NMCB 40; the battalion is scheduled for disestablishment in September.
USPACOM is an arduous and geographically dispersed area of responsibility with unique operational, logistical and communication challenges. NMCB 40 was stretched across the Pacific theater from its main body site in Okinawa, Japan, while supporting 11 detachment sites and nine exercise locations: South Korea, Guam, Diego Garcia, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor, Philippines, Palau and Vietnam.
NMCB 40 executed numerous Theater Security Cooperation missions and exercises that focused on strengthening military-to-military relationships and enhanced the humanitarian assistance and disaster recovery capabilities of the host nations.
“Often, the Seabees of NMCB 40 were the only U.S. military presence in these developing nations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ben Miller, executive officer, NMCB 40. “The interaction and host nation support provided by the ‘Bees from Fighting 40 further enhanced the positive reputation of the United States while continuing to add to the proud legacy of the Seabees in the Pacific Command.”
“Fighting 40” also executed $8 million in construction readiness projects in support of installation commanders and other military commands. The scope of these projects ranged from remote gravel roads, asphalt projects and construction of pre-engineered buildings to the installation of technologically complex solar power and overhead concrete projects.
In a message to NMCB 40, the 30th Naval Construction Regiment said, “NMCB 40 has raised the bar and greatly enhanced the Seabee legacy in the execution of high-quality, technically challenging construction.”
The 2011-2012 USPACOM deployment is the final deployment for NMCB 40. The battalion is scheduled to disestablish on Sept. 12 as a result of U.S. fiscal constraints and the post-Afghanistan and Iraqi war drawdown. However, this is not the first time NMCB 40 has disestablished. During the post-World War II drawdown, NMCB 40 was disestablished in Okinawa, Japan, only to be reactivated 21 years later in 1966 when the nation needed additional construction support for the Vietnam War.
On July 13, NMCB 40 performed its last turnover at Camp Shields, Okinawa, Japan.
At that time, Cmdr. Tim DeWitt, commanding officer, NMCB 40, said, “As we turn over Camp Shields this morning, our battalion colors will come down for the final time overseas. It’s a proud legacy 40 has left in the Pacific.”