This Week in Seabee History (Week of May 1)

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

Afghanistan Dust Storm

Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 work through a sand storm at the Barley Company Pre-Fabrication Yard at Camp Natasha, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, May 15, 2009. NMCB 5 was deployed to Afghanistan supporting the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and was a Naval Expeditionary Combat Command warfighting support element providing host nation construction support and security. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class E. Rosario/090518-N-9410R-018)

May 1

1942: 3rd Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned.

1945: 33rd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) inactivated; 33rd NCB inactivated at Peleliu; 57th NCB inactivated at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, California.

1946: 32nd Special NCB inactivated at Tsingtao, China.

1966: NMCB 4 at Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), began hiring and training of local Vietnamese laborers in the trades of carpenter, riggers, welder, mason, and automotive mechanics.

1970: Seabee Team 0314 returned to the continental U.S. (CONUS) via government aircraft.

1971: Headquarters of the 32nd NCB was moved from Vietnam to Roosevelt Road, Puerto Rico.

May 2

1944: 31st Special NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCTC) Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1945: 16th NCB inactivated at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

1968: Cmdr. W.K. Hartell, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), took command of the Seabee camp at Quang Tri Combat Base, RVN.

2004: A mortar attack at Camp Ramadi, Al-Ramadi, Al Anbar Province, Iraq killed five members of NMCB 14, one U.S. Army soldier, and wounded 28 other personnel who had assembled in a vehicle parking and maintenance area to allow visiting Rear Admiral Charles Kubic, commander, First Naval Construction Division, to inspect damaged vehicles and talk with the assembled personnel. This represented the deadliest day for the Seabees since the Vietnam War.

May 3

1951: NMCB 6 activated.

1967: The first flight of NMCB 3’s advance party departed Port Hueneme, California in C-118’s for Phu Bai, RVN.

May 4

1944: ACORN 20 dissolved, incorporated into Naval Air Base Majuro; ACORN 21 dissolved and absorbed into Naval Air Base, Roi. (Used during World War II, an ACORN was a tailored unit designed to carry out the rapid construction and subsequent operation of a landplane and seaplane advance base. Each ACORN had a construction battalion attached to it, as well as trained personnel to operate the control tower, field lighting, aerological unit, transportation, medical, berthing, and messing facilities. A Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) also accompanied each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn. During the war, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island, and Majuro.)

1967: Seabee Team 1109 arrived on site at Chiang Kham, Changwat Chiang Rai, North Thailand, to relieve Seabee Team 0909.

May 5

1945: Seabees of the 30th NCR completed the last runway of the four-field B-29 airdrome on Tinian in the Mariana Islands from which B-29 “Superfortresses” airplanes mounted the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in August 1945.

1968: The first increment of NMCB 1’s advance party of 76 personnel deployed via C-141 aircraft from Davisville, Rhode Island to Da Nang, RVN.

1969: Seabee Team 0410 moved from the Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Port Hueneme, California, where they were in training, to Vietnam beginning their eight month deployment. The team arrived in Saigon on May 5, 1969.

1970: Seabee Team 0414 with Officer in Charge Lt. j.g. K. Vogel departed CBC Port Hueneme, California for Saigon, RVN for training and indoctrination before proceeding to their final deployment site in Cao Lanh, RVN.

May 6

1968: The main body of NMCB 11 deployed from CBC, Port Hueneme, California to Quang Tri, RVN.

2016: Capt. Chris LaPlatney, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieved Capt. Marc Delao, CEC, as commanding officer, Amphibious Construction Battalion Two at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia.

May 7

1943: 94th NCB formation authorized.

1946: 146th NCB inactivated on Okinawa.

1965: Assisted by Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 manning pontoon causeways, NMCB 10 landed on the beaches at Chu Lai, RVN, together with U.S. Marine units. The landing was the first deployment of a full Seabee battalion to Vietnam. NMCB 10 commenced construction of the Chu Lai expeditionary airfield and advance base.

1968: NMCB 10 main body departed Quang Tri, RVN for CONUS.

1970: NMCB 4 advance party arrived at Camp Kinser and Guam.

1971: Construction Battalion Unit (CBU) 201 received the Navy Unit Commendation for meritorious service from June 1966 to March 1971 for providing construction support to Operation Deep Freeze in the Antarctic. The award was presented at the unit’s disestablishment ceremony held at Davisville, Rhode Island. At the time, Lt. John E. Perry, Jr., the officer in charge, accepted the award on behalf of the officers and men who had served with the unit.

1971: Seabee Team 0107 departed Tan An, RVN.

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