Seabees Help Maintain Fleet Readiness in Japan

By Sky M. Laron, Director of Corporate Communications, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka

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CM2 Marlon Patriz conducts daily operations at the NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka MHE Regional Management compound on board Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan, July 11.

Seabees assigned to Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka’s Material Handling Equipment (MHE) Regional Management compound on board Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan, completed equipment refurbishments July 11 in support of Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF).

Construction Mechanic 1st Class Nicholas Mckenzie, Equipment Operator 1st Class Jason Brown and Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Marlon Patriz led the way in refurbishing efforts on seven 20-foot refrigeration units that will provide backup refrigeration support for all FDNF ships and submarines that pull into Yokosuka.

“By having our refrigeration units ready for issue at all times we ensure that NAVSUP FLCY can provide cold storage service to all customers in a timely manner on a 24-hour clock,” said Mckenzie.

Still, this team has much more than refrigeration units to account for.

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(Left to right) EO1 Jason Brown, CM2 Marlon Patriz and CM1 Nicholas Mckenzie, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka, at the NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka MHE Regional Management compound on board Yokosuka Naval Base, July 11.

“We are responsible for the oversight management of 772 pieces of MHE for 46 different commands,” said Brown. “Every day we receive multiple phone calls with questions and problems and we take great pride in providing commands with the tools to maintain a proper MHE program. [This enables] the fleet to deliver supplies, HAZMAT and munitions.”

So how did these three fighting ‘Bees end up on the coastal shores of Japan helping to maintain fleet equipment?

Brown was born in Sandpoint, Idaho, high in the Rocky Mountains, 30 minutes from the Canadian border. His grandfather owned Browns North Side Machine and Gear. He was his grandfather’s shadow as he worked on heavy equipment.

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EO1 Jason Brown operates a piece of equipment during daily operations on board Yokosuka Naval Base, July 11.

“I spent my afternoons and weekends fetching tools and parts,” said Brown. “When I turned 12 I was put on the payroll and had my own time card.

“I graduated to doing oil changes on logging trucks and by the time I graduated high school I was working on fixing, welding and manufacturing parts for all types of equipment from tractors to airplanes,” he added.

Brown soon got a job with the Idaho Transportation Department as a maintenance night supervisor where he spent seven years.

“I paved roads, built bridges and even plowed snow on the Fourth of July Pass,” said Brown.

But one day would change his life forever. On April 17, 2005, he was working on a lock system project at Farragut Naval Training Station, a former U.S. Navy training center located on Lake Pend Oreille, Bayview, Idaho. That’s where he met the Seabees for the first time.

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EO1 Jason Brown operates a piece of equipment during daily operations on board Yokosuka Naval Base, while CM2 Marlon Patriz gives ground guidance, July 11.

“At the time I was inspecting the concrete being poured,” said Brown. “After trading stories of foreign travels and seeing their kinship I was sold and joined the United States Navy.”

For Patriz, the joy of turning wrenches came long before his military service as well. He gained his experience bolting high-performance parts on a variety of cars and vehicles. Today, he finds the same joy helping the fleet.

“Making a difference gives me job satisfaction and motivation,” said Patriz. “We are a small division with a big job, finding solutions for the fleet.”

Mckenzie also gained his skill through a family connection. His father operated an auto mechanic shop in New York, and gave him his first experience repairing equipment. However, it was a family friend who would help bring Mckenzie to where he is today.

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CM1 Nicholas Mckenzie (left) and CM2 Marlon Patriz check electrical continuity of a refrigeration unit at the NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka MHE Regional Management compound on board Yokosuka Naval Base, July 11.

“A good friend of my dad decided to provide some mentorship by providing me information about the opportunities in the military,” said Mckenzie. “Based on his experience working with Navy Seabees in Vietnam he guided me towards my current path, which is proving to be the correct one so far.”

So whether these NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Seabees gained their skills high in the Rocky Mountains, building their own Fast & Furious creations or at an auto shop in the Big Apple, one thing is for certain…you put a problem in front of these three and it will be fixed.

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CM2 Marlon Patriz conducts daily operations at the NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka MHE Regional Management compound on board Yokosuka Naval Base, Yokosuka, Japan, Jul. 11

A Seabee is a member of a U.S. Navy Construction Battalion (CB). The word “Seabee” comes from the initials “CB.” More than 70 years ago, approximately 30,000 men served with the Seabees in World War II, fighting and building on six continents and more than 300 islands. In the Pacific, where most of the construction work was needed, the Seabees landed soon after the Marines and built major airstrips, bridges, roads, warehouses, hospitals, gasoline storage tanks and housing.

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