U.S.-Philippine Seabees Reach Major Milestone in Footbridge Construction

By MC1 Chris Fahey, Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force Public Affairs

BK 13 - San Pascual Cable Pull

BUCN Brittany McGrath, NMCB 5, leads U.S. and Philippine Seabees in pulling a suspension cable for the San Pascual footbridge. Photo by MC1 Chris Fahey

Philippine and U.S. Seabees reached a major milestone during construction of the San Pascual footbridge, Zambales, Philippines, March 28. Using steal reinforced concrete, the Seabee team laid the primary support blocks for the main suspension cables, completing the footbridge’s anchoring system.

“Now that we have the anchor set, we need to let the concrete dry for the next seven days or so,” said San Pascual Construction Supervisor Chief Builder Courtland Sawyer, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5. “This is a big step because it means we have a solid foundation. Now, we can work on the tiers leading up to the main support cable. After that, we’ll start the suspension work.”

According to the Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force (JCMOTF) Operations Chief, laying the footbridge’s anchor marks roughly 30% completion of the footbridge.

“The anchor system is a critical piece of the footbridge,” said JCMOTF Operations Chief Master Chief Constructionman Alonso Cadena. “It endures the stress from the suspension cables. Once it’s done correctly and good-to-go, then we can proceed to finish the job off with a strong sense of confidence.”

To honor their achievement, the Philippine- U.S. Seabees held a traditional, celebratory “lechon” or pig roast. The event offered the team a chance to reflect on best practices, share ideas and get to know each other in a more relaxed setting.

According to Sawyer, relaxing with the Philippine Seabees and enjoying their company during a culturally significant event opened the team up and created a stronger friendship.

“I’m glad we got to spend some time together off the clock,” said Sawyer. “On the site, we kid around and joke with each other, but we are also one hundred percent focused. It’s all work. We needed this time to really bond, talk and gain a better understanding of each other. I’m excited to start the phase of construction.”

The footbridge was one of eight engineering civic action projects (ENCAP) performed by Combined/Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force (CJCMOTF) units in support of exercise Balikatan 2013. Balikatan is an annual Philippine-U.S. bilateral exercise in which humanitarian assistance and training activities enable the Philippine and American service members to build lasting relationships, train together and provide assistance in communities where the need is greatest.

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