Story by MC2 Michael Lopez, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 Public Affairs
PORT HUENEME, Calif. – Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 held a change of command ceremony on Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, May 10.
Cmdr. Joseph Harder was relieved by Cmdr. Jonathan Nieman as the commanding officer of NMCB-3 in a ceremony attended by military and civilian guests, and distinguished visitors.
Capt. David McAlister, commodore of Naval Construction Group 1, served as the guest of honor.
“Today is a bittersweet day for the Naval Construction Force (NCF),” said McAlister. “We must say farewell to Cmdr. Harder, but also get to celebrate his leadership and highlight just a couple of the amazing things that NMCB-3 accomplished during his outstanding tour as commanding officer. We also get to welcome Cmdr. Nieman back to Port Hueneme, and back to NMCB-3 while we formally transfer command of NMCB-3 from Cmdr. Harder to Cmdr. Nieman.”
Harder assumed command of NMCB-3 in July 2017 and successfully led the battalion in executing U.S. Pacific Fleet’s operational priorities. He led over 500 Seabees deployed across 13 remote sites completing 78 construction projects and participating in ten multinational exercises. Under his leadership, NMCB-3 was awarded the 2017 Battle “E,” the 2017 Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award, and the 2017 and 2018 Navy Community Service flagship awards.
“What an honor it has been to lead the Seabees of NMCB-3,” said Harder. “Coming into this job, I truly did not comprehend the totality of the command experience and what it means to be fully responsible and accountable for the welfare, health, performance, development, and actions of more than 600 Seabees. What I was clear on was what I wanted to accomplish with the command – I wanted to develop the next generation of combat-ready Seabees, the next generation of Seabee leaders and Chiefs, and the next generation of Civil Engineer Corps officers that are prepared to lead tomorrow’s NCF.”
In closing his remarks, Harder addressed Nieman and described his path forward.
“I proudly turn over the reins of NMCB-3, a combat unit led by the most dedicated and passionate professionals I have served with,” said Harder. “I trust them to your caring hands now that you will lead and inspire them to reach new and unexplored heights. The responsibility to lead and strengthen the dynasty is now yours. You are the right person to lead the ‘Better Than Best’ battalion.”
The change of command was solidified by the passing of the battalion colors from Harder to Nieman, a tradition among NCF units.
After the passing of the colors, Nieman addressed the nearly 600 Seabees for the first time as their commanding officer.
“It is humbling and an absolute honor to be standing here in front of all of you today as your commanding officer,” said Nieman. “Opportunities to serve with you and for Seabees are few and far between. I will strive daily to be better than best for you, your families, our Naval Expeditionary Forces and our nation.”
In closing, Nieman described what makes Seabees a vital component of the Naval Expeditionary Force.
“It makes no difference to me what your background is, where or how you grew up, what your belief system is or is not, your gender, the color of your skin, or even your rating or designator,” said Nieman. “We are NMCB-3 Seabees and that is all that matters. We draw strength from our diversity of experiences and thoughts – a primary reason Seabees remain the premiere expeditionary construction force in the world. I sincerely look forward to the challenge of earning your confidence and trust from this day forward.”
Nieman is a native of Guilderland, New York, and previously served as Public Works Officer of Naval Support Activity Bahrain’s Public Works Department. His expeditionary tours include Charlie company commander, embarkation officer, assistant Alfa company commander, officer-in-charge, and assistant operations officer of NMCB-3, officer-in-charge of Construction Battalion Unit 427, executive officer and operations officer of Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303, and operations officer of NMCB-74.
One of the first battalions commissioned at the start of World War II, NMCB-3 has the ability to build and fight anywhere in the world as either a full battalion or as a group of autonomous detachments completing critical engineering and construction missions simultaneously.
NMCB-3 is home-ported in Port Hueneme, California. Seabees are the expeditionary engineering and construction experts of the Naval service. They provide task-tailored, adaptable and combat-ready engineering and construction forces that deploy to support global Navy objectives.
For more information about Seabees and NMCB-3, visit http://seabeemagazine.navylive.dodlive.mil or https://www.facebook.com/NMCB3/