Seabees’ Diego Garcia Runway Project Saves Big

By CECN Ginger Knapp, NMCB 4

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UTCN Lisa Shelby, NMCB 4 Detail Diego Garcia, installs emergency solar-powered aviation light mounts on the Diego Garcia airport runway, British Indian Ocean Territory, enabling the airfield to operate during a power outage. Photos by CECN Ginger Knapp

A crew of four Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 Detail Diego Garcia installed 93 solar-powered runway emergency light mounts for the airfield in Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory.

The project, originally estimated at $711,454.03, was completed using excess materials from previous projects, saving more than $700k in material and labor with no operational costs.

“My greatest appreciation goes out to the [detail] for the work you all did,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gary Stephens, air operations officer, Diego Garcia. “We are now capable of landing airplanes at night with a total power blackout.”

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SW2 Ernesto Mendez, NMCB 4 Detail Diego Garcia, measures 300-meter spacing for placement of solar-powered emergency runway light mounts, Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory. 

The NMCB 4 ‘Bees were selected for the light mount project after their skillful performance and quick response repairing five runway lights that would have shut down airfield operations. The detail mobilized a crew that fabricated and installed the steel light mounts in three hours, which enabled Diego Garcia Air Operations to regain full operational capacity and reopen the runway.

Completion of these projects serves as a prime example of the work executed on a daily basis by the Seabees.

“We take great pride in the work Seabees do here in Diego Garcia,” said Builder 1st Class Michael Munninger, the detail’s operations chief and designer of the light mount. “We’re simply carrying on the ‘Can Do’ tradition of the Seabees who originally built this runway.”

NMCB 4 is deployed to the Pacific Area of Operations executing Theater Security Cooperation, Construction Civic Action and Construction Readiness Operations. The Seabees’ work directly benefits the operational capacity of host and tenant commands, and improves the morale and quality of life of local civilian populations across seven countries.

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