This Week in Seabee History (April 15 – April 21)

Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command

this week in seabee history (week of april 16)
Master Chief Glen Mummert shows Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Joe R. Campa Jr. the various locations Navy Seabees assigned to the Naval Support Unit State Department, established in April 1966, are deployed around the world on a map at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C, March 14, 2008. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer A. Villalovos)

April 15

1944: ACORN 14 dissolved and was absorbed into Naval Air Base, Hawkins Field, Tarawa; ACORN 17 dissolved and was absorbed into Naval Air Base, Mullinix Field, Tarawa; ACORN 16 dissolved and was absorbed into Naval Air Base, Apamama.

1946: 1st Special NCB inactivated at Kyushu, Japan.

1952: NMCB 9 activated.

1954: Monday, April 15, 1954, was a banner day for the Naval Construction Battalion Center at Port Hueneme, California. On this day, the first permanent buildings ever constructed on the Center were completed and dedicated. The barracks were named Thomas Barracks in honor of the late Capt. Robert E. Thomas, CEC. He served 26 years in the Navy and was the first Director of the Pacific Division of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, the predecessor of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific. In January 1943, he died in a plane crash near San Francisco. Mrs. Robert E. Thomas, along with her son, Cmdr. Robert E. Thomas, Jr., CEC, unveiled the commemorative plaque in honor of her husband.

1966: NMCB 7 deployed to Hue – Phu Bai, RVN.

1969: The 21st NCR headquarters was relocated temporarily in Building 101, Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Davisville, Rhode Island.

1971: NMCB 3 turned over Camp Haskins South to the U.S. Army 57th Transport Battalion.


April 16

1944: 4th Naval Construction Brigade commissioned.

1967: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3’s pre-advance party arrived at Phu Bai, Republic of Vietnam (RVN), to select a new advance base camp site.


April 17

1968: Part of NMCB 71 arrived in Chu Lai, RVN.


April 18

1969: NMCB 4 main body departed Port Hueneme, California, and arrived at Da Nang, RVN.

1972: The last Seabee Team site in Vietnam was closed down by Seabee Team 0321. The team’s employment at Ham Tan, Binh Tuy Province was shortened to four months by an accelerated phasedown schedule.


April 20

1946: 301st Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated on Guam.

1970: NMCB 3 advance party returned to the continental United States (CONUS) via commercial aircraft.

1971: NMCB 5 formally relieved NMCB 74 in Vietnam.


April 21

1945: ACORN 50 was decommissioned and Naval Air Base Kobler was commissioned. 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.

1966: A Naval Support Unit of Seabees was established in the Department of State. This assignment came about in 1964, because cleverly concealed microphones and listening devices were discovered in the United States embassy in Moscow. As a result of this discovery, Seabees were sent to the newly built U.S. embassy in Warsaw. They proceeded to tear up floors and walls, and there too discovered ingeniously hidden microphones and listening devices. Consequently, the Department of State decided to use Seabees to keep an eye on foreign contract construction at American diplomatic missions in Soviet-bloc countries and also to perform maintenance duties and minor repair construction. The program was later extended to American diplomatic missions in the Far East and in Africa. These informal arrangements were made more permanent with the organization of the Department of State Naval Support Unit.

Replica of the Great Seal which contained a Soviet bugging device, on display at the NSA’s National Cryptologic Museum. Via Wikipedia


Replica of the Great Seal which contained a Soviet bugging device concealed inside a gift given by the Soviets to the US Ambassador to Moscow on August 4, 1945 on display at the National Cryptologic Museum in 2005. Via Wikipedia


1969: Cmdr. R.D. Gaulden, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), commanding officer of NMCB 4, relieved Cmdr. J.J. Lee, CEC, commanding officer of NMCB 12 at Camp Adenir, Da Nang, RVN.

1971: NMCB 3 main body flights, consisting of three passenger flights and one cargo flight, departed Da Nang, RVN, for Port Hueneme, California.

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