Partnerships Forged Worldwide During Deployment

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexa Trafton, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1

Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 held a ceremony at Camp Mitchell, on board Naval Station Rota, Spain, acknowledging the turnover of responsibility for oversight of construction projects around the globe on August 21, 2017.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Lacy P’Pool, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion ONE member of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, plays a hand-clapping game with a student while on break near the Seabees job site in the Arta Region, Djibouti, May 18, 2017. The nearly 10-person team is working to build both a medical clinic and bond with the regional people. (Photo by U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

The turnover ceremony concluded a seven-month deployment for 756 active and reserve service members assigned to NMCB 1, and marked the transfer of authority to NMCB 133 at all 15 unit detachments.

“The transfer of authority ceremony has two significant purposes,” said Cmdr. Lance Flood, commanding officer of NMCB 1. “First, it signifies the transfer of the watch at all sites around the world from one mobile unit to another. Second, it represents the change of commander for Task Group 68.2. In this latter capacity, we are responsible for overseeing the operations of all Seabees, from this unit and others, in Europe and Africa.”

During the deployment, the battalion performed construction readiness operations, humanitarian construction projects, exercise-related construction and mobile outstation support, while building lasting partnerships at 51 detachment sites spread across 36 countries and supporting five geographic combatant commands.

“The huge span of control over our unit, from Guam to Afghanistan, is necessary to meet the nation’s demand for Seabees,” said Flood. “Everywhere I travel, supported commanders of all services are effuse in their praise of the Naval Construction Force. The closing line is often ‘I just want more.’ In today’s constrained environment, we meet that challenge by truly deploying around the world and by leveraging the help of about 200 reserve component Sailors. It is a team effort, and we are successful because of what every member of the team brings to the fight –active and reserve.”

Key community leaders and Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 pose for a photo in front of the Walung Health Clinic during a ribbon cutting ceremony on the island of Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia, July 25, 2017. NMCB 1 is forward deployed to execute construction, humanitarian and foreign assistance, special operations combat service support, and theater security cooperation in support of U.S. Pacific Command. (U.S. Navy photo)

“I simply could not be more proud of our Sailors and their families during the past seven months,” said Flood. “Our battalion has increased stability in vulnerable regions, supported special operations in several locations, improved partnerships with allies, and increased baseline readiness across the board to deter and if necessary respond to major crises.”

The battalion supported and participated in 10 military exercises across Europe, Africa and the Pacific, including Sea Breeze 2017, an exercise conducted to improve maritime operations and Black Sea partnership. For the exercise, NMCB 1 was tasked to train Ukrainian Marines in joint expeditionary construction operations to include construction of a heavy timber tower, a heavy timber bunker, a sentry post and a concrete pad.

“It was a great learning experience for us and the Ukrainians, being able to work together and complete these tasks.” said Chief Builder (Select) Mathew Speece, from Erie, Pennsylvania. “Everyone assigned to the Det. built personal friendships with members of the Ukrainian military that will last for years to come.”

Steelworker 3rd Class Daniel Pham, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One (NMCB 1), hugs a Honduran student during a Southern Partnership Station 17 community relations project (COMREL) at the Escuela Rural Mixta Luz Infantil, a local elementary school. NMCB 1 Sailors continue building improvements, including addition of new plumbing fixtures, toilets and roofing for the school. SPS-EPF 17 is a U.S. Navy deployment, executed by U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces in Central and South America. (U.S. Army photo by SGT Crystal Madriz)

Working with partner and allied nations, NMCB 1 personnel also participated in 18 community relations events, providing over 800 hours of volunteer work to help the local community wherever they were deployed. In Guam, Seabees supported a science fair at a local school and vacation bible school at a local church. In Spain, Seabees worked with the rescue dog program and provided assistance at multiple concerts sponsored by the Navy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.

“The volunteer events we have been able to participate in have been great,” said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Darshawn Pumphreyking, from Rockford, Illinois. “Sailors got to interact with a range of people and enjoy some unique events. They were great morale boosters for us and time well spent.”

One of the key pillars of U.S. defense strategic guidance is to build partner capacity. The military regularly conducts humanitarian assistance and exercises in multi-lateral environments to ensure partner nations can efficiently work together should a disaster strike. NMCB 1 is a Seabee battalion that specializes in contingency construction, disaster response and humanitarian assistance.

“Our families have been equally stellar in maintaining the home front so that we can stand our watch,” said Flood. “While I’m excited to get home and thank my own family, I will leave here with a deep rooted appreciation for the men and women of the NMCB 1, NMCB 14, and UCT 1 family.”

Lt. Cmdr. Jason Ward introduces Village Chief Hassan Diama to Seabees assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa gathered on a construction site in the Arta region, Djibouti, during a flag dedication ceremony where they are building a medical center, Aug. 17, 2017. The project was started by Naval Mobile Construction Battalion ONE (NMCB 1) and is being relieved by NMCB 133 who will continue working on the project with plans of completion in 2018. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Joe Harwood)

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