This Week in Seabee History: January 17-23

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

January 17

1968: The second advance party departed the continental United States (CONUS) via C-130 and C-118 aircraft to join the first advance party in Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

Jan. 17-19, 1968: NMCB 53 main body arrived at Da Nang, RVN.


January 18

1943: 75th NCB commissioned at Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1947: As a part of Adm. Richard E. Byrd’s Antarctic expedition, Operation Highjump, 166 Seabees sailed from Port Hueneme, California, in December 1946. The Seabees sailed on the USS Yancey and the USS Merrick. The USS Yancey arrived alongside the ice of the Bay of Whales, Antarctica, on 18 January 1947, and the USS Merrick arrived shortly afterwards. The Seabee detachment, part of a total complement of 4,000 men and 13 ships, then proceeded with their assigned tasks at Little America 4 in Antarctica. They unloaded equipment and supplies, set up a temporary naval base, built housing, a mess hall and storage facilities. They also built a temporary airstrip, an emergency base further inland and a communications system. The Seabees did all this work during the Antarctic “summer,” with temperatures ranging from approximately 30 degrees above zero to 26 degrees below zero. [ADDITIONAL STORY: Read Rendezvous with Penguins: Seabee Construction of the South Pole Dome, by Dr. Frank Blazich.]

1965: NMCB 11 deployed from Port Hueneme, California, and simultaneously relieved NMCB 9 on Okinawa by turn-around airlift. The airlift of the two battalions by the U.S. Air Force marked the first time in the Seabees’ history that NMCBs have been deployed by air.

1968: Cmdr. R.A. Bowers, commanding officer, NMCB 53, relieved Cmdr. L.D. Lawson, commanding officer, NMCB 7, as commanding officer, Camp Adenir. The first two flights of NMCB 7 main body departed for Davisville, Rhode Island.

1970: Main body of NMCB 40 departed Davisville, Rhode Island, for deployment at Camp Moscrip, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.

1972: Seabee Team 7410 deployed to Yap Island, Pacific Trust Territory.

Jan. 18-20, 1968: NMCB 7 main body departed Vietnam for Davisville, Rhode Island, aboard eight C-141 aircraft.

Jan. 18-20, 1972: NMCB 62 main body departed Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, for Construction Battalion Center (CBC), Gulfport, Mississippi. NMCB 74 main body arrived in Camp Moscrip, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico (PR).


January 19

1965: NMCB 9 departed Okinawa by air transportation to Port Hueneme, California.

Jan. 19-21, 1968: Main body of NMCB 7 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island, from Da Nang, RVN.

January 20

1943: 4th Special NCB formed at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1945: 36th Special NCB formed at Advance Base Depot (ABD), Port Hueneme, California.

1965: The first deployment by air of an entire Seabee battalion took place when NMCB 11 flew from Point Mugu, California, to Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands. This method of transportation saved a full month of travel time for each Pacific deployment. NMCB 8, Detachment Echo, completed a mission vital to fleet operations in defense of the Eastern Mediterranean. Originally begun in January 1963 by NMCB 6, Project Judy involved building an entire Naval Communications Station in a swamp area near Marathon, Greece, a rural community situated on the shores of the Aegean Sea, approximately 25 miles from Athens. Interestingly enough, the community of Marathon is near the site of the famous Battle of Marathon fought between the Greeks and the Persians, circa 490 BC.

1967: Equipment Operator 3rd Class Francis E. Camden Jr. and Construction Mechanic Constructionman Merlin E. Boon, NMCB 62, were killed and 17 others wounded when a Viet Cong mortar attack hit the Phu Bai military enclave, Camp Campbell.

1968: NMCB 53 relieved NMCB 7 at Camp Adenir, RVN.

1969: Main body of NMCB 1 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island, from Da Nang, RVN.

1969: Seabee Team 7102 was assigned to the 21st NCR for 18 weeks of specialized training.

1970: Main body of NMCB 71 arrived at Davisville, Rhode Island, from Camp Moscrip, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, for reassignment to the 21st NCR.

1972: NMCB 74 main body departed CBC, Gulfport, Mississippi. NMCB 62 main body arrived at CBC, Gulfport, Mississippi. NMCB 74 relieved NMCB 62 as Atlantic Fleet Alert Construction Battalion at Camp Moscrip. Cmdr. Frank M. Newcomb, CEC, was relieved as Commander, 32nd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), by Cmdr. James D. Kirkpatrick, CEC. Camp Moscrip was turned over to NMCB 74 by NMCB 62.

Jan. 20-27, 1969: NMCB 5 main body departed CONUS by air for Camp Hoover, Da Nang, RVN.


January 21

1942: The 1st NCB, the earliest Seabee organization activated and sent overseas, later broken into three detachments including the famous Bobcat Detachment, was commissioned at Charleston, South Carolina.

1944: 3rd NCB commissioned.

1971: Seabee Team 0414 departed Saigon, RVN, for CONUS.

1972: 21st NCR change of command ceremony. Seabee Team 0417 departed Xuan Loc, RVN, for redeployment back to the U.S. Seabee Team 13308 departed Kien Hoa Province, RVN, for 20th NCR, CBC Gulfport, Mississippi.

Jan. 21-28, 1969: NMCB 1’s main body, 15 officers and 580 men, deployed via five DC-8 (extended) aircraft from Da Nang, RVN, to Davisville, Rhode Island.


January 22

1943: 76th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) commissioned in Norfolk, Virginia (exact camp unknown).

1945: 137th NCB reactivated at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island.

1968: Seabee Team 0602 arrived in Phouc Le, Republic of Vietnam (RVN). The Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 rock crusher site was named Camp Coker in memory of Yeoman 3rd Class D.C. Coker who was killed in a mortar attack on 30 August 1967. Seabee Team 4002 Advance Party arrived at Camp Shields, Chu Lai, RVN.


January 23

1968: NMCB 74 was relieved by NMCB 62 at Camp Haskins, South, RVN.

1969: The commanding officer of NMCB 5, Cmdr. R.B. Wilson, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), officially relieved the commanding officer of NMCB 1, Cmdr. T.J. Mitchell, CEC, as commander of Camp Hoover, Da Nang, RVN, and Camp DeShurley, Phu Loc, RVN.

1971: Nine-man reconnaissance party lands at Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), to confirm planning information and carry out preliminary survey of beach landing areas for 50-man party of NMCB 1 and Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 2 to arrive in March and begin construction of U.S. Naval Communication Station Diego Garcia, BIOT.

Project Rest Stop personnel survey the jungle on Diego Garcia for a possible naval base in 1967. One of the major projects for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and the major project for the Seabees in the 1970s and early 1980s was the construction of the naval complex on the atoll of Diego Garcia, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory. Diego Garcia, one of the 52 coral atolls of the Chagos Archipelago, is located in the Indian Ocean 960 miles south of India and seven miles south of the equator. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

Check Also

Navy Heritage Desks

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brent Pyfrom, All Hands Magazine Past and present …