By BU3 Brian Whelan, NMCB 74
The Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74, Detail Sasebo, Japan, met with local Boy Scout Troop 76, Far East Council of Boy Scouts, on the construction site of a future Navy ship repair storage facility where the ‘Bees are constructing the building foundation. While on site, the Boy Scouts learned about the Seabees and had the opportunity to earn their engineering merit badge.
The Scouts, ranging in age from eight to 15 years, took turns looking at blueprints, shop drawings and construction activity schedules, and then moved out on the job site to see the formwork set in place and the various tools Seabees have at their disposal. When questioned by a young Scout about what classes were most important to become an engineer, Ens. Nick Sweet, Detail Sasebo Officer In Charge, said, “You need to be well rounded in all areas, including writing and history, but math and sciences are the foundation to engineering.”
Builder 3rd Class Brian Whelan explained the necessity of building strong formwork to support pressure while placing wet concrete, and described how important terms such as level, plum, flush and square are to the work Seabees do. Whelan also discussed how important the use of proper protective equipment is on the job, as even the expertly trained Seabees can get hurt. When the Scouts doubted the presence of steel in the Seabees’ boots, Whelan firmly tapped the toe of his boots with a hammer – to the boys’ surprise.
Fire Control Chief Eric Holewinski, troop leader and father, said the Scouts, “Get to do a lot of hands-on learning here in Sasebo. We’ve done overnights on some of the ships out here and now, actually getting onto a construction site they see firsthand the work that goes on.”
Before leaving the site, NMCB 74 Seabees asked the Scouts what they learned. One young Boy Scout responded, “A ‘wacky packer’ makes the ground hard so buildings won’t tilt or sink.” This Scout – and many others – earned their engineering merit badges that day.