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This Week in Seabee History: January 20-26

Jan. 22, 2019 | By ggranger
Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, Naval History and Heritage Command

Late January

1990: Devastating floods struck central Tunisia, displacing families and destroying railroad lines and bridges. As part of Exercise "Atlas Rail," Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3's Air Detachment worked jointly with Tunisian army engineers to repair flood-damaged rail lines. [caption id="attachment_15786" align="alignnone" width="618"]
A truck convoy moves out to a US Navy Seabee construction site. The Seabees are in Tunisia to repair a flood-damaged railroad during exercise ATLAS RAIL.
A truck convoy moves out to a US Navy Seabee construction site. The Seabees are in Tunisia to repair a flood-damaged railroad during exercise ATLAS RAIL.
VIRIN: 180116-N-ZY182-5786
A truck convoy moves out to a U.S. Navy Seabee construction site. The Seabees are in Tunisia to repair a flood-damaged railroad during exercise Atlas Rail. (Photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Stephen L. Batiz) [caption id="attachment_15785" align="alignnone" width="618"]
US Navy Seabees take part in exercise ATLAS RAIL, a Seabee project to repair a flood-damaged railway.
US Navy Seabees take part in exercise ATLAS RAIL, a Seabee project to repair a flood-damaged railway.
VIRIN: 180116-N-ZY182-5785
U.S. Navy Seabees take part in exercise Atlas Rail, a Seabee project to repair a flood-damaged railway. (Photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Stephen L. Batiz)

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. [caption id="attachment_13722" align="alignnone" width="441"]
VIRIN: 170118-N-ZY182-3722
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)

January 24

1946: 36th NCB inactivated on Okinawa. 1968: Cmdr. William J. Richeson, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 62, relieved Cmdr. Gordon W. Schley, CEC, commanding officer, NMCB 74, at Camp Haskins South, RVN. Jan. 24-27, 1968: The main body of NMCB 62 arrived in RVN.

January 25

1944: 22nd Special NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia. 1963: Seabee Teams 0501 and 0502 were the first Seabee Teams to arrive in Vietnam. Team 0501 was employed at Dam Pau in central South Vietnam and Team 0502 was employed at Tri Ton, southwest of Saigon near the Cambodian border. Both teams were employed in support of the United States Army Special forces. 1971: The Navy League Councils throughout the country sponsor Sea Cadet units which take 14 to 17 year old youngsters and give them boot camp and technical training aimed at qualifying them up to E-3. Sea Cadet graduates who later enlist in the Navy can enlist at their level of attainment in the Sea Cadet program. 2008: NMCB 15 steelworkers and engineers of the 814th Multirole Bridge Company completed construction of a floating span of a Mabey Johnson Float Bridge in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

January 26

1943: ACORN 4 arrived at Noumea. (In World War II, Navy ACORN units, composed of Seabees and other components such as aircraft maintenance units, etc., were put together to design, construct, operate and maintain forward landplane and seaplane bases and operational facilities.) 1967: Seabee Team 0511 departed the main body at Da Nang, RVN, for training at the 31st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), Port Hueneme, California. 1972: Seabee Team 6207 departed Yap Island for Guam.