THIS WEEK IN SEABEE HISTORY (Week of Nov. 15)

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

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Seabees with the 58th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) pour asphalt on Okinawa, 1945(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

November 15

1942: ACORN 1 arrived at Guadalcanal. (In World War II, Navy ACORN units, composed of Seabees and other components such as aircraft maintenance units, etc., were put together to design, construct, operate and maintain forward landplane and seaplane bases and facilities for operations.)

1945: 28th and 40th Naval Construction Regiments (NCR) were inactivated. 112th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated on Okinawa. 142nd NCB inactivated at Manila, Philippines. 34th Special NCB inactivated at Guam.

1967: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 58’s first advance party consisting of three officers and 62 men arrived at Camp Haskins, North, in preparation for NMCB 58’s second deployment in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

Nov. 15-19, 1971: Main body of NMCB 1 departed Davisville, Rhode Island, for deployment to Diego Garcia (Reindeer Station).

November 16

1945: 29th Special NCB inactivated at Guam.

November 17

1969: Because of curtailment of Department of Defense operating funds and completion of major construction tasks in Southeast Asia, seven Naval Mobile Construction Battalions were slated for retirement by the end of the year. The first four battalions disestablished included: NMCB 9 at Port Hueneme, California; NMCB 128 at Gulfport, Mississippi; and NMCB 6 and NMCB 58 at Davisville, Rhode Island. In December 1969, NMCB 8, 11 and 53 were disestablished.

1971: NMCB 40 main body departed Diego Garcia for Davisville, Rhode Island.

November 18

1942: 38th NCB commissioned at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia. 46th NCB formed at Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island. 50th NCB commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

November 19

1945: 2nd NCB inactivated. 19th NCB inactivated on Okinawa.

1963: Reconstruction of ammunition magazines and permanent camp facilities and roads at Vieques Island of the U.S. Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, was commenced by NMCB 7.

1965: Capt. Harold F. Liberty relieved Cmdr. C.F. Mobley as officer-in-charge, Construction Battalion Base Unit, Port Hueneme, California.

1967: Firefighters from NMCB 9 and neighboring Marine units waged a successful day-long battle to contain a fire which threatened to destroy major exchange facilities at the Freedom Hill Recreation Center near Da Nang, RVN. Despite the combined efforts of Marine and Seabee units, a post office, warehouse, and several small shops were lost. The task of cleaning debris from the twisted metal remains of two 40 x 200-foot buildings began immediately as part of the effort essential to reconstruct the devastated facilities.

1967: Seabee Team 0912 departed the main body at Da Nang, RVN, via C-118 aircraft for the 31st NCR to commence military and technical training.

1969: Main body of NMCB 53 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island, from Da Nang, RVN.

1971: Cmdr. P. Oliver Jr., commanding officer, NMCB 1, relieved Cmdr. D.W. Urish, commanding officer, NMCB 40, as island commander, Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

November 20

1943: 18th Special NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

Nov. 20-28, 1943: During World War II, the island campaign of the Central Pacific began. Tarawa, Makin and Apamama in the Gilbert Islands fell between Nov. 20-28. The toughest objective was the fortress of Betio, main island of the Tarawa Atoll. A savage air and naval bombardment razed the above-ground defenses, but the well dug in Japanese defenders took a toll of nearly 1,000 American dead in one of the costliest island seizures of the Pacific War. D-Day plus 4 saw the first echelons of the 74th and 98th NCBs come ashore at Tarawa. The big problem was cleaning up ravaged Betio Island. As a base, it has been wrecked. Ruins, decaying food dumps, thousands of dead from both sides and chaos met the occupiers. The Seabees had to clear and grade virtually every square foot of the island, and put Tarawa’s Japanese airstrip in use less than a day after landing. Keeping it in continuous operation, they resurfaced and lengthened the runway to 6,000 feet. In addition, they erected a fuel farm and housing facilities, and inventive Seabees used Japanese materials to rebuild Tarawa’s principal dock.

1945: 19th NCR inactivated. 88th NCB inactivated at Samar, Philippines. 94th and 128th NCBs inactivated on Guam.

1956: The Seabees had long been used to working tropical jungles and even in the extreme cold of Alaska, but Operation Deepfreeze took them to the coldest and most desolate area on earth. On November 20, eight Seabees and 11 dogs were landed by plane near the geographical South Pole to begin construction of South Pole Station, the first permanent camp at the South Pole. Thanks to the Seabees, Antarctica was later able to boast snow-compacted roads and runways, underground storage and comfortable living areas. Read “Rendezvous with Penguins: Seabee Construction of the South Pole Dome” on Seabee Online.

1966: NMCB 62’s advance party of 6 officers and 109 men arrived at Phu Bai, RVN, to begin the Battalion Equipment Evaluation Program (BEEP) and prepare to relieve NMCB 7.

November 21

1945: 21st NCB inactivated on Okinawa.

1965: NMCB 9 named its camp in honor of Steward 3rd Class Restituto P. Adenir, who was the first member of NMCB 9 killed in Vietnam (October 28, 1965).

1967: Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) requests that the Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) be advised by naval commands and project offices engaged in oceanographic and deep sea development and/or operational activities for which facility/construction requirements may be generated or required of program developments on a continuing basis “in order that the advancements in NAVFAC and Seabee underwater construction capabilities are matched to emerging operational requirements.”

 

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