By UT2 (SCW) Brendan Hilfers, NMCB 74
NMCB 74, Detail SOCAFRICA, Camp Lemonnier Djibouti, Africa. Photo by MC2 Ryan Williams
After several months of hard work while onboard Camp Lemonnier, Djbouti, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74, Detail Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) crew completed its primary tasking: construction of a pre-engineered building (PEB) to serve as a secure office for Special Operations Command Forward – East Africa (SOCFWD-EA).
“The completion of our Sierra Hotel project is great news!” said Lt. Kevin McAdams, detail officer-in-charge. “All 13 Seabees involved displayed exceptional teamwork and overcame several challenges through the final stages of construction. SOCFWD-EA can now utilize their premium new work space for operational requirements, increasing capability to the SOCAFRICA mission.”
Members of SOCFWD-EA said they are pleased with the Seabees’ work and are excited to move into the new building.
“The Seabees assigned to SOCFWD-EA continually demonstrated phenomenal professionalism, expertise and dedication toward the successful completion and accreditation of the new SOCFWD-EA Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility – valued at nearly $750,000,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Jones who, as the main customer representative, has accepted and taken receipt of the building. “Their efforts have ensured that SOCFWD-EA intelligence and operational leadership have the best possible facility to support DoD [Department of Defense] missions throughout the East Africa area of operations.”
A project started by NMCB 4, NMCB 74’s work on the PEB included placing floor tile and installing interior electrical and split unit air conditioners, as well as painting and installing floor boards. One of the more difficult challenges the Seabees had to overcome involved pulling electric cables underground and connecting them to the nearby power station, requiring a high degree of coordination between the NMCB 74 Detail, the Public Works department and the local civilian contractors. During the operation, power to a section of the base was shut off for safety reasons, which in turn meant the Detail had to work late into the night in order to have a minimal effect on the rest of camp. Once the work was finished, primary power connected and all final checks completed, the power source supplied to the facility was switched from the generator to the primary power grid. With this finished, so was the project.
Now with their primary tasking complete, the ‘Bees are ready to take on Officer-in-Charge Discretionary (OICD) projects – smaller jobs usually requiring shorter amounts of time to complete. Once such tasking is a berthing expansion and relocation project. New offices and storage areas are planned to take the place that the Contained Living Units (CLUs) are currently in. In order to relocate the CLUs, Seabees will place concrete pads, or foundations, in an area more suitable for long-term use.
Additionally, some of the crew members have begun getting actively involved with the local community. Three members of the Detail SOCAFRICA, along with members of NMCB 74 Detail Horn of Africa (also located on camp), took a morning trip and volunteered with Caritas Charity, spending a few hours playing sports and teaching English and math to homeless children. Caritas is a confederation of Catholic relief, development and social service organizations. The local branch provides food and daytime shelter to homeless children as well as mothers with young infants. The local Caritas facility also provides these individuals with a place to wash clothes, get a hot meal, bathe and receive basic health care. Volunteers from NMCB 74 taught the children how to cook and sew, and gave them a break from the outside world with movies and games.