From NMCB 11 Public Affairs Office
GULFPORT, Miss. – The Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 completed their Field Training Exercise (FTX) and Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center near Hattiesburg, Miss., Oct. 02.
FTX and FEP evaluated the Atlantic Fleet Seabee Battalion’s abilities in various NMCB mission areas and certified NMCB-11 as ready for future operational tasking. “During our annual FTX the men and women of NMCB-11 faced 100+ degree temperatures, long hours, little sleep, and significant engineering and defensive operations tasking, yet they handled it with the utmost professionalism and commitment to our mission,” said Command Master Chief John Beck.
FTX is an around the clock exercise which tests a battalion’s capability to perform scheduled tasking in the midst of extreme adversity. Construction operations are accomplished under constant hostile activity as aggressors and role players attempt to penetrate battalion defenses and disrupt the battalion’s momentum. The Seabees, in this environment, see very long days as watchstanders, construction workers, and defensive security elements. For Seabees, the primary mission is contingency construction, but they must also be ready to defend their camp and accompanying assets at all times.
During FTX, the battalion maintained a mainbody site while simultaneously deploying and maintaining their Air Detachment (Air Det.), Bridge Detachment, and several task tailored detachments assembled for specific engineering tasking.
The battalion’s Air Det. conducted three successful field 48-hour mount outs and redeployments, while maintaining a 24-hour defensive posture and performing construction tasking under constant hostile activity.
The Air Det., comprised of 89 skilled Seabees and known as the battalion’s first responders, laid the ground work for the battalion’s mainbody to move-in from its Receiving, Staging, Onward-movement, and Integration (RSOI &I) location, performing initial security sweeps, camp layout, and the erection of essential command posts, enabling a seamless transition of command from Air Det. to the mainbody.
The battalion was also tasked with several engineering missions to exercise their ability to construct tactical infrastructure in a contingency environment. The battalion erected a Mabey Johnson bridge as well as medium girder bridge to support freedom of movement for simulated forces and local nationals within the operations area. NMCB 11 was also tasked with constructing other structures to include; a 15 foot timber tower, a heavy timber bunker, hardened security posts, vertical take-off and landing pads, a Southwest Asia Hut, and the establishment of a forward operating base (FOB) complete with showers, laundry, galley, medical station, communications hub, and 360 degree security, serving as the launching point for many of the battalion’s missions. “The team who built the timber tower and heavy bunker really came together,” said Engineering Aide 1st Class David Lawlor. “Between the equipment operators, builders, and everyone else assigned, we really nailed it.”
The battalion’s Convoy Security Element (CSE) also played a key role in the successful completion of this year’s FTX. During the exercise, NMCB-11 CSE conducted more than 16 missions totaling over 250 miles, including convoy escort, traffic and entry control point security, and medical evacuation escorts. Teams consisting of six gun trucks and 31 Seabees worked around the clock to provide convoy security and escort to engineering missions. The hardest part of the mission according to CSEs officer-in-charge, Lt. j.g. Ryan Mulligan was “ensuring that we were utilizing our CSE assets to fit into the battalion’s defensive mission when we weren’t out on a convoy”.
“I’m truly honored to serve with such a dedicated and capable group of warriors,” said CMDCM Beck. “I’m confident that we are ready, willing, and able to provide our supported commanders with a full spectrum of Naval Construction Force operations wherever, and whenever the situation may arise.”
The successful completion of this year’s exercise is another critical milestone in the battalion’s homeport training cycle and signifies mission readiness for major combat operations.
Homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi, NMCB-11 is part of the Naval Construction Force (NCF). The NCF is a vital component of the U.S. Maritime Strategy and are comprised of deployable battalions capable of providing contingency construction, disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance, and combat operations support.