Submitted by NAVFAC Far East
Capt. Matt Ovios, installation commanding officer, Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan, presents awards to the Public Works Department Self-Help Seabees, April 29, for facilitating the move of tenant commands from the base welcome center to temporary spaces. EOC Matt Kreamalmyer (right), BU1 Curtis Phinisee and Ens. Chris Aller received Navy Achievement Medals, and BU3 Mickhail Taylor, UT3 Chris Tran, BU3 Alex Paddy, BU3 Brady Myers and CE2 Christian Imperio received Letters of Commendation. Citations were awarded for “dedication [which] allowed continuity of essential financial and personnel support services provided by eight departments to be maintained for a community of 7,000 Sailors and civilians while the 94 employees were shifted to a refurbished 12,000-square-foot recreation facility in only 96 hours.” U.S. Navy photo
Responding to personnel safety concerns, Public Works Department (PWD) Sasebo, Japan, and its Self-Help Seabee unit moved tenant commands from a Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Sasebo facility to temporary spaces, April 9. The Seabees’ efforts ensured no loss of operational capability or negative impacts to services provided by the tenant commands affected by the move.
Following a review of a seismic study performed on the FLEACT Sasebo Welcome Center, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Far East concluded there was a safety risk to personnel and recommended the facility be vacated as soon as possible. The decision affected 91 personnel at eight commands, including two banks and their vaults. PWD Sasebo Self-Help Seabees began work on March 25 to prepare relocation areas, and moved all equipment by April 9.
“I am extremely proud of our Seabees and host nation workforce,” said Public Works Officer Lt. Cmdr. Dean Allen. “They planned and executed a very rapid relocation of eight tenant commands and essential gear with minimal interruption in services to the community. These storefronts are vital to FLEACT Sasebo Sailors, civilian employees and families. Any downtime would have been detrimental. I’d bet very few people in the Department of the Navy could say they’ve relocated a bank – much less two – in the span of one week, without disrupting service hours.”
The three bank vaults, with a combined weight of more than five tons, posed a unique challenge for the Seabees. The largest vault, weighing two and a half tons, was moved using “Egyptian Techniques.” Two-inch steel rods were placed under the safe and a safety harness was attached. With some Seabee “Can Do” attitude, the vault was pushed into its new location. With only a quarter-inch clearance on all sides, the move had to be done with precision.
“This evolution is not an everyday affair for any Seabee deployed or homeported, and to see this team relocate an entire building’s operations in 96 hours with zero loss to connectivity or mishap remind me why Seabees are the construction force of choice,” said Chief Equipment Operator Matthew Kreamalmyer, who led the Seabee unit.
Other work included setting up electrical wiring and fixtures, moving 93,000 lbs. of furniture, installing air conditioning units and communications equipment, and building temporary teller stations for the banks. The Navy saved approximately $66,000 by using the Seabees instead of hiring a contractor to perform the work.
“Seabees are known for expeditionary construction in emergency response,” said Kreamalmyer. “ With the short-fused timeline and requirements needing to be met in reallocating current spaces into offices and [being] brought up to code expeditiously, Seabees were the first choice and most capable unit on site. We are experienced in this type of construction and relief effort.”
The tenants affected were Navy Federal Credit Union, Community Bank, FLEACT Sasebo N8, Personnel Support Detachment, FLEACT Sasebo Housing, Personal Property, SATO travel leisure and Commercial.
“I appreciate the teamwork we had with the FLEACT Sasebo community, which provided labor and material resources to expedite the temporary relocation,” said Allen. “This effort will continue throughout the year at a more deliberate speed as we renovate office space elsewhere on the installation to receive these tenants in their permanent homes.”