By Ens. Frances R. Hunter, NMCB 11 Public Affairs
SW3 Frank Piner, NMCB 11 DET Guam, scrubs down a grader during the battalion’s 48-hour mount out exercise, Naval Station Guam, March 12. Photo by Ens. Frances R. Hunter
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 Detachment (DET) Guam conducted a 48-hour Mount Out Exercise (MOX) at Camp Covington, Naval Base Guam, March 12-14.
An MOX simulates one of the core capabilities of an NMCB: the ability to deploy an 89-person Air Detachment (AIRDET) within 48 hours for any mission required by a supported commander. Missions range from major combat operations to humanitarian disaster relief. The mount out is a challenging task, given that Seabee missions frequently require heavy construction equipment and large quantities of support materiel.
For the MOX, the 158 Seabees of DET Guam prepared and staged more than 538,000 pounds of equipment and supplies ranging from 31 pieces of Civil Engineer Support Equipment (CESE) to 1,700 MREs and 2,500 bottles of water. The exercise culminated in a convoy to Andersen Air Force Base, rehearsing the transport of one “chalk” (items and personnel travelling on a given aircraft) to the point of air departure. In an actual mount out, the majority of the equipment (including ‘dozers, backhoes and tractor trailers) would leave Guam on Air Force aircraft.
SW3 Patrick Mobley, NMCB 11 DET Guam, uses a pressure washer to clean a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) tractor trailer during the battalion’s 48-hour mount out exercise, Naval Station Guam, March 13. Photo by Ens. Frances R. Hunter
DET Guam emphasized realism throughout the exercise, treating it as a rehearsal for a mission that could be ordered any day.
“As a leader for this organization, it makes me confident that we have the ability to meet our required operating capability of mounting an AIRDET out within 48 hours,” said Senior Chief Construction Electrician Chris Beck, NMCB 11’s AIRDET senior enlisted advisor. “We test them, we push them to the limit, we give them the worst-case scenarios, and at the end of the day they accomplish the mission.”
The mount out evolution requires coordination and teamwork. Seabees build pallets and wash, weigh and measure each piece of equipment to locate its center of balance. Load planners input the information into a computer program named Transportation Coordinators’ Automated Information for Movements System (TCAIMS) to determine where everything will be placed in military aircraft and help ensure the load is properly balanced.
Construction Electrician 2nd Class Joshua Davis, NMCB 11, described the interaction between his job as load planner and the outdoor teams weighing and measuring equipment.
Capt. Erich Diehl, commander, Task Force (CTF) 75, tours the embark yard with Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth Sowell, officer in charge, NMCB 11 DET Guam, during the battalion’s 48-hour mount out exercise, Naval Station Guam, March 13. The exercise tested NMCB 11 DET Guam’s ability to rapidly deploy construction equipment and personnel via simulated tactical air and sealift. Photo by Ens. Frances R. Hunter
“My part folds in everything that’s going on outside, all the moving parts,” Davis said. “If I don’t do my job right, I’m failing them. But if they’ve got one pound off or one inch off, they’re failing me.”
The exercise was based around a humanitarian scenario. NMCB 11 AIRDET was hypothetically ordered to fly to Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia to assist in disaster relief efforts following a tsunami. AIRDET leadership conducted detailed mission planning for tasks including search and recovery, clearing debris, delivering emergency supplies, constructing a tent camp, and repairing the airport and seaport to open the way for further relief efforts.
As the exercise began, however, Tropical Storm Bavi swept through the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Marshall Islands on its way to Guam. Category Five Tropical Cyclone Pam
simultaneously left a trail of devastation in Vanuatu, a remote archipelago near Australia. With the MOX already underway, DET Guam boarded up windows, placed sandbags for typhoon conditions and prepared for the possibility that the simulated scenario could become very real.
“It was kind of eerie,” said Builder Constructionman Missila Vinsant, NMCB 11. “If anything [did] happen, we’re basically ready to go in a few hours.”
That turned out not to be necessary, as NMCB 11 was not ordered to assist with Cyclone Pam relief efforts. However, the MOX ensured that NMCB 11 AIRDET is now fully ready to deploy at any time.
NMCB 11 is a Seabee battalion specializing in contingency construction, disaster response and humanitarian assistance. The battalion’s homeport is in Gulfport, Miss. NMCB 11 DET Guam is forward deployed to Camp Covington, Naval Base Guam, to provide a contingency construction force ready to mount out in support of operations ranging from disaster relief to major combat operations throughout the Pacific.