This Week in Seabee History: March 15-21

Consolidated by U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Naval History and Heritage Command

Seabees with CBMU 301 fixing a bulldozer’s track near Khe Sanh in 1968. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

March 15

1942: 1st NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia.

1945: ACORN 27 decommissioned. (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each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn.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 World War II, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island, and Majuro.)  Also on this date, the 147th NCB was commissioned at NCTC Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1966: NMCB 58 commissioned at Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Davisville, Rhode Island with Cmdr. Ward W. DeGroot, III, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), as commanding officer.

1967: NCMB 1 advance party consisting of 107 personnel deployed to Da Nang, RVN on two C-141s from Naval air Station (NAS) Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

1969: Capt. J.E. Powell, CEC, relieved Capt. J.R. Fisher, CEC, as commander, 30th NCR.

1970: Camp Rhodes, Quang Tri, Republic of Vietnam, closed by NMCB 74 Detail Alpha. Camp Rhodes, named in honor of Lt. Joseph J. Rhodes, CEC, USNR, was officially dedicated on September 18, 1968.


March 16

1968: Seabee Team 5802 deployed to a new employment site at Soc Trang, RVN.

1970: Seabee Teams 0103 and 0104 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island from Vietnam for reassignment to NMCB 1;  NMCB 5 main body departed the continental United States (CONUS) by air for Camp Haskins North, Da Nang, RVN.

16-26 March 1970 – NMCB 5 main body departed CONUS by air for Camp Haskins North, Da Nang, RVN.

1971: Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 departed Davisville, Rhode Island for deployment to Keflavik, Iceland.

1972: Seabee Team 13308 disestablished.


Seabees with CBMU 301 fixing a bulldozer’s track near Khe Sanh in 1968. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

March 17

1943: Camp Allen and Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia disestablished.

1969: NMCB 8 main body deployment from CBC Port Hueneme, California to Camp Haskins South, Da Nang, RVN via Air Force MAC charter aircraft.


March 18

1964: The first men assigned to a Well Drilling Team arrived in Vietnam. Made up of men from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 9, the team was employed in support of two well-drilling programs – one sponsored by the U.S. Army Special Forces and the other sponsored by the United States Operations Mission. In addition to supplying potable water to rural areas of Vietnam, the team trained Vietnamese to perform drilling operations. Before the phase-out of this program, five Well Drilling Teams were sent to Vietnam. The Seabees trained their Vietnamese Army counterparts in drilling techniques. The well drilling ended in December 1965.

1966: The 20th and 21st NCRs were reestablished as part of the United States military buildup for the Vietnam War. The 20th NCR was headquartered at the CBC, Gulfport, Mississippi and the 21st NCR at the CBC, Davisville, Rhode Island. These regiments were tasked with the coordination and administration of the technical and military training of the battalions during their stays at the two centers.

1970: NMCB 1’s main body flights departed Camp Haskins North, RVN for CBC, Davisville, Rhode Island.


March 19

1942: The Secretary of the Navy authorized officers of the Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) to exercise military command over all officers and enlisted men assigned to construction units. Prior to this date, military command of naval personnel was limited to line officers.

1967: The commanding officer, operations officer, supply officer, Alpha Company commander, and one chief petty officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 departed Port Hueneme, California, to act as an Advance Planning Group for the battalion deployment.

1969: NMCB 3 relieved by NMCB 8 at Camp Haskins South, Republic of Vietnam (RVN); NMCB 3 main body returned to the continental United States (CONUS) via government and commercial aircraft.

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March 20

1971: NMCB 5’s deployment to WESTPAC (Western Pacific) began, including Vietnam, Guam, and the Philippines.

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March 21

1942: The first Seabee training camp was commissioned with the official name of United States Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC), Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia. It was named Camp Allen in memory of Capt. Walter H. Allen, who, during the First World War, commanded a Public Works Regiment at Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Illinois.

1944: Camp Hollyday, Gulfport, Mississippi disestablished.

1969: Capt. R.M. Fluss, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), was relieved as commanding officer of NMCB 4 by Cmdr. R.D. Gaulden, CEC. The change of command ceremony was held on the Construction Battalion Center (CBC) main parade grinder, Port Hueneme, California.

1981: NMCB 133 was chosen Best of Type in the Atlantic Fleet for fiscal year 1980 for their labors in Diego Garcia. The Kangaroos went on to win the coveted Peltier Award, symbolic of the best Seabee battalion the Naval Construction Force. In a ceremony conducted on May 21, 1981, Captain Herbert H. Lewis, Commanding Officer of NMCB 133, accepted the Peltier Award on behalf of the entire battalion. The winning of the Peltier Award was to be repeated to historical proportions by the battalion during the 1980s.

2003: Seabees cross the line of departure into Iraq with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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