By MC1 John Curtis, NMCB 5 Public Affairs
HM2 Daniel Boyd washes a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement prior to it being weighed and inspected for transportation on an aircraft during Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5’s Mount Out Exercise (MOX). The MOX tests the ability for a battalion to deploy Seabees, materials and equipment within a 48-hour period. NMCB 5 is currently deployed to Japan and several countries in the Pacific area of operations conducting construction operations and humanitarian assistance projects. Photo by MC1 John Curtis
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 completed a mount out exercise (MOX), March 20.
Every year as a part of measuring readiness, the battalion has to perform a successful MOX that proves that the unit has the capabilities that are required. The MOX is designed to show that a mobile construction battalion is able to mount out their air detachment in as little as 48 hours from receiving their orders to the time they leave the tarmac.
“The exercise assesses our ability to rapidly deploy to crisis in the Pacific area of operations,” said Ensign Kevin Lachat, the battalion’s embarkation officer.
The battalion must prepare heavy equipment, tools, materials and Seabees for deployment on military aircraft to a crisis area, within 48 hours, to assist with disaster response and recovery.
Lachat said that even though they are deploying less than a quarter of the battalion, it takes the effort of the whole battalion to make the evolution successful.
The scenario for NMCB 5 involved a super typhoon that caused severe damage to a Pacific country where people were suffering and the host nation government’s infrastructure was critically impaired.
Before the notional typhoon made landfall, NMCB 5 was issued a warning which alerted the Seabees in the air detachment to be prepared to respond. The mount out control center (MOCC) was activated and allowed the battalion to track and direct all of the different elements required to identify the equipment to be staged, transported, and loaded in order to move it to the final destination where it would be used.
EO2 Wyatt Lester puts his bags in line to be weighed during Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5’s Mount-Out Exercise (MOX). The MOX tests the ability for a battalion to deploy Seabees, materials and equipment within a 48-hour period. Photo by MC1 John Curtis
After execution orders for deployment were received, the process of embarkation of the air detachment began. The air detachment performed administrative and gear inspections to ensure all of the Seabees designated to deploy are ready and accounted for.
“Just like Alfa Company is inspecting equipment to ensure that the equipment is operable, we are inspecting personnel and making sure they are ready,” said Construction Mechanic 1st Class Efrain Vega. “Our Seabees need to have the right gear to protect them and maintain healthy standards. It is our responsibility to make sure that they won’t have medical and dental issues in a place where they might not have medical facilities immediately available to take care of their medical needs.”
The MOCC tracked and communicated all the steps that are involved to move the materials, vehicles, and equipment. The different steps in the process include putting basic supplies on pallets, washing vehicles, collecting weight and balance data for each piece of equipment and prioritizing the order of shipment in a staging area. The equipment and pallets are then organized into chalks, which represent the order in which they will be loaded onto the aircraft.
“It’s important to get the preparation done right and to build pallets the right way, because we don’t want to show up to load the aircraft and have to redo everything.,” said Equipment Operator 1st Class Bill Draper, the embark lead petty officer.
“Once we were established, everything went smoother than I’ve seen it done before.” said Draper who has previously been through three similar exercises.
After the joint inspection finished, which was performed by the Marines for the movement by air and by the Army for the movement by sea, the event culminated with NMCB 5 receiving a passing grade, proving that they have the capabilities to react to a significant event where disaster relief is needed.
“We executed with precision, skill and professionalism,” said Cmdr. Cameron Geertsema, NMCB 5 commanding officer.
Geertsema said that although this was an exercise, it was clear that the battalion’s Seabees take their profession seriously, capable of meeting future mission requirements and that they met the criteria of being “prepared to fight tonight,” if called upon to do so.
The Port Hueneme, California based battalion is currently operating forward throughout the U.S. Pacific Command, supporting U.S. naval and joint forces under the command.