Story by MC1 Stephane Belcher, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5
For the first time, the Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 participated in hands-on formal training with the Cold-Formed Steel Mobile Factory (CFSMF) onboard Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, California, Sept. 8 through Sept. 16.
During the course, the original equipment manufacturer passed knowledge to the end-user, the Seabees, on setting up, operating, and maintaining the CFSMF. In this case, that included potential instructors and operational personnel.
This course will catalyze the development of the sustainment training solution.
“When Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) purchases new or modernized equipment, there are potentially training gaps,” said Senior Chief Equipment Operator Justin Richards, assigned to NAVFAC Training Support Agency. “Our purpose is to identify and fill those gaps.”
The CFSMF will add a degree of flexibility, not only to NMCB-5’s operational capability, but the entire Naval Construction Force (NCF), ensuring the Seabees remain as efficient as possible.
“Using steel versus dimensional lumber to frame helps overcome the lack of material availability, poor material quality, high cost, or wide logistics footprint for the latter,” adds Richards. “Plywood and material for framing take up a lot of space when embarked, and the elements easily damage the wood.”
The battalions try to optimize the Navy’s resources, and moving material such as lumber has the potential to be damaged. However, transporting rolled steel that is galvanized coated runs less of a risk for damage, and it takes less space to ship and store.
“I believe that the Navy’s priorities are for the NCF to be able to build expeditionary structures anywhere and quickly,” said Richards. “The CFSMF has proven, during the new equipment training, that the NCF can build more quickly, and with a much smaller footprint when embarking.”
The next session will be conducted again for the Naval Construction Group’s (NCG) in Gulfport, Mississippi. Eventually, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command will provide a formal training course to be delivered by the NCGs.
NMCB-5 is homeported in Port Hueneme, California. During the homeport phase, the Seabees train on high-quality construction, expeditionary logistics, and combat operations to support U.S. and partner nations and deter aggression.