Story by MC1 Stephane Belcher, NMCB-5 Public Affairs
Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, Detail Marshall Islands, teamed up with local Marshallese volunteers to aide with the community’s material and logistical needs at Ennibur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of Marshall Islands.
The Seabees have helped the local community and in return, strengthened the U.S. Navy’s international ties in the region. They supported local contractors delivering construction materials and tools to the island of Ennibur, and constructed a concrete evacuation center that now serves as the local community’s disaster preparedness building.
“This is my first time working with Seabees,” said Joseph Adkin, a Marshallese volunteer, and resident who helped build the evacuation center and worked alongside the Seabees. “And it is my first time building a place this big. Over the time spent, I’ve learned many things about them and from them. I am happy and thankful for having the opportunity of working with the Seabees.”
The 34’ by 50’ Ennibur Evacuation Center, located in the center of the island, took six-months to complete. The center has an open area for a gathering point, and the two enclosed rooms are now used to store emergency goods and materials.
“The evacuation center has a huge impact in the community,” said Gemti Peter, former school teacher of Ennibur Elementary School. “It not only serves as an assembly and gathering area during a calamity but also serves as a community center where we can host a national holiday celebration and school graduation.”
While deployed to the island, the Seabees also built a water catchment facility for the locals, which is now the largest public water catchment on Ennibur Island, providing 12,000 gallons of water to the local community.
“The eight 1500-gallon water catchment is a big help for every family living on the island,” said Total Jimna, local from Ennibur Island. “It provides water for our daily chores like cooking, bathing, washing dishes, and washing clothes.”
The catchment has a butterfly-roof system to collect and store rainwater into eight 1,500 gallon containers. The water catchment facility is also centrally located—supplying water to several critical public facilities on the island.
During their sparse downtime, the Seabees contributed to the community by picking up litter in Marshall Islands, specifically at a historical Japanese terminal building and air-raid shelter in Roi-Namur.
“The beach clean-up volunteer event that Builder 3rd Class Tristan Hieb organized opened a huge opportunity for the Seabees to showcase their compassion to the community,” said Chief Builder Rouel Agustin, NMCB-5’s Detail Marshall Islands assistance officer in charge. “It not only strengthens the relationship of the Seabees with the U.S. Army Garrison, but also created a lasting impression on the contractors and local Marshallese working and living at Roi-Namur.”
“The community relation activities of Seabees throughout Kwajalein Atoll exemplifies the Seabee motto, ‘With compassion for others’ and the outstanding work that the Seabees completed at Ennibur Island highlighted, ‘We build for peace with freedom.’”
NMCB-5 is deployed across the Indo-Pacific region conducting high-quality construction to support U.S. and partner nations to strengthen partnerships, deter aggression, and enable expeditionary logistics and naval power projection. The battalion stands ready to support Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief and Major Combat Operations throughout the region.