THIS WEEK IN SEABEE HISTORY (Week of Nov. 8)

Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum

CBMU505-WW2

Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 505 shovel-loading truck with scoria at a quarry on Guadalcanal, July 1943. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

November 8

1942: Seabees encountered their first combat in the European theater of operations when they landed with the assault forces on the beaches of North Africa. The Seabees built facilities at Oran, Casablanca, Safi, and Fedala. Later, as the American Army moved across Africa toward Tunisia and the final showdown with the Germans, the Seabees built staging and training areas along the coast as far as Arzeu. On the west coast of Africa, the Seabees built a huge Naval Air Station in Port Lyautey, Morocco and supplementary air and supply bases at Agadir and Casablanca. Through these later ports poured materials, men, and equipment needed for the coming invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland.

1944: 13th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) inactivated.

1945: 20th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated on Okinawa.

1969: Seabee Teams 1113 and 1114 transferred to Naval Mobil Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 to become Seabee Teams 0315 and 0316, respectively, due to disestablishment of NMCB 11.

1971: Seabee Teams 1021 and 1022 commenced Seabee Team Training.

November 9

1945: 26th Special NCB inactivated on Oahu, Hawaii.

1965: NMCB 4 transferred to Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMCBPAC) from Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMCBLANT).

1970: NMCB 3 main body flights consisting of three passenger flights and two cargo flights departed Port Hueneme, California and arrived at Camp Haskins South, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1971: 3rd Naval Construction Brigade officially disestablished.

November 10

1945: 137th NCB inactivated on Okinawa. 16th Special NCB inactivated on Guam.

November 11

1962: During Typhoon Karen which struck Guam, winds reached 142 miles per hour with gusts of up to 200 miles per hour. The typhoon injured hundred of people and left nine dead. Damage to U.S. defense facilities reached $200 million. NMCB 5, stationed on Guam at the time of the typhoon, aided in restoring the wrecked island. The shops and much of the equipment of the Seabees had been destroyed, but with what they still had, they worked hard and fast. They erected plywood housing and canvas tents to shelter the homeless, cleared debris from roads and streets, and rebuilt bridges. Seabee electricians raised 1,000 new powerline poles and restored light, power, and communications to the island. NMCB 11 arrived in December and a massive reconstruction program was started. By early 1963, Guam’s naval facilities began to look normal again.

1968: An unnamed street in Gulfport, Mississippi was named Engram Drive in honor of Capt. Robert C. Engram, Gulfport Seabee Center commanding officer.

November 12

1942: 43rd NCB activated at Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1942: Camp Peary, Williamsburg, Virginia established.

1945: 111th NCB inactivated on Samar, Philippines.

1967: NMCB 5 advance party arrived at Camp Barnes, RVN.

1969: Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 was established in the 21st NCR as a unit to conduct training and to perform construction, as required, to support Navy underwater projects.

November 13

1970: Cmdr. J.L. Godsey, CEC, commanding officer of NMCB 3, relieved Cmdr. F.M. Newcomb, CEC, commanding officer of NMCB 62, as camp commander, Camp Haskins South, RVN.

1970: Seabee Team 4004 returned from Xuan Loc, RVN for reassignment to NMCB 40.

November 14

1967: The first increment of NMCB 58’s advance party arrived at Da Nang, RVN. The commanding officer of NMCB 10 moved from Gia Le to the Quang Tri Forward Combat Base, RVN, and established the battalion headquarters there.

1968: Railroad Bridge No. 1, first of three being rebuilt by NMCB 1’s detail Foxtrot around Lap An Bay, Republic of Vietnam, is completed.

1969: NMCB 6 and 58 held decommissioning ceremonies at Davisville, Rhode Island.

1970: Lt. Cmdr. J. Perez relieved Lt. Cmdr. N.G. Ricker as executive officer of NMCB 1.

2003: Presidential Unit Citation awarded to Seabees deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom under the First Marine Expeditionary Force Engineer Group (I MEG). These included the 30th NCR, NMCB 5, NMCB 74, NMCB 133, NMCB 4, Naval Construction Force Support Unit 2, UCT 2 Air Detachment, the 22nd NCR, I MEG Command Element, NMCB 7, NMCB 15 Air Detachment, NMCB 21 Air Detachment, NMCB 25 Air Detachment, and CBMU 303 Detachment.

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