Story by MC1 Class Stephane Belcher, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5
Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 started resurfacing a vertical take-off and landing pad and a coral runway to minimize foreign object damage at the Ie Shima Training Facility (ISTF) in Okinawa, Japan, Feb. 19.
This joint project, with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 and 9th Engineer Support Battalion, consists of resurfacing and expanding an 863,900 square-foot expeditionary runway and conducting road repairs at ISTF.
NMCB-5 is providing essential civil engineering support equipment, such as graders, a water truck, and compacters; as well as Seabee support to operate the equipment and grade the runway.
“One of the cool things about this project is knowing that it’s apart of an ongoing mission,” said Engineering Aide 3rd Class Icesis Scott, with NMCB-5. “Many times when we think of Navy heritage, we think of traditions and great battles, but sometimes we overlook the small things like a mile-long runway, which seven Navy Seabees had the privilege to work with Marines on, on a tiny Japanese island. The runway we’re working on has been in use as a training area for a long time and will continue to be so for years to come.”
The training facility provides 808 acres of ground training area in a viable location that enables U.S. forces to conduct a variety of tactical exercises under austere conditions vital to the Navy and Marine Corps readiness. Once the reserfacing is complete, the runway will again be capable of receiving C-130 Hercules aircraft.
“This project has given us the opportunity to conduct cross branch training,” said Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Ryan Bezeau, with NMCB-5. “We can work outside of our normal rating to apply techniques and procedures, create solutions, broaden our range of experience, and increase efficiency for future operations. With its semi-remote location on the island of Ie Shima, the airfield has logistical hurdles that need to be trained for in order to strengthen our ability to effectively move from island to island and execute missions in the Indo-Pacific Command area of operations.”
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.