Kuching Elementary School Expansion Project Completion Marked by Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Story by MC1 Nathan Carpenter, Logistics Group Western Pacific

KUCHING, Malaysia – Pacific Partnership 2019’s (PP19) ribbon cutting ceremony at Sambir Elementary School marks the completion of a project by engineers from the Malaysian Armed Forces, U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3, and participants from the Australian Army and U.S. Air Force, April 11, that enclosed the ground floor of a building.

Students observe as U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Lakhdhir cuts the ribbon at Sambir Elementary School. The event marked the successful completion of a project to enclose the ground floor of a building at the school, April 11. (Photo by MC2 William Berksteiner)


By enclosing the space with brick walls, new doors, windows and electrical fixtures, project workers created a large new room, expanding the capacity of the school and allowing it to better serve the community as an evacuation center in the event of a natural disaster emergency.

“Having space for the students and the community to have larger events significantly improves the utility of the building,” said Ensign Diedrich Harms, the officer-in-charge of the project.

The work involved more than 4,600 hours of labor, with 16 engineers from the Malaysian Army and 17 from other PP19 partner nations working side-by-side and learning new construction methods and techniques from each other.

“We learned a lot from the opportunity for us to work together with the Malaysians,” said Harms. “They worked so hard, non-stop. That really motivated our crew to do the same.”

Malaysian Army along with U.S. Navy Seabees, U.S. Air Force, and the Royal Canadian Medical Service celebrate the end of an enclosure project during a ribbon cutting ceremony at Sambir Elementary School. These engagements promote cooperation and friendship between Pacific Partnership 2019 participants and the host nation, April 11. (Photo by MC2 William Berksteiner)

Differences in available building materials, codes and cultures mean that projects like these vary in different countries and regions. PP19 participants were able to benefit from learning how to work with Malaysian brick and tile and learning effective new methods for stucco. The ability to use local materials effectively and to work well together are key factors when responding to any potential natural disasters in the region.

“It’s not about how much work we completed,” said Builder 1st Class Mark Lindsey, “It’s about how much work we completed together.”

“None of us can do things alone,” said U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir. “We always need partners and friends, whether we are in primary school or whether we are generals or admirals.”

Pacific Partnership, now in its 14th iteration, is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. Each year, the mission team works collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific.

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