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This Week in Seabee History: November 7-14

Nov. 8, 2021 | By U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Naval History and Heritage Command

November 7

1971: Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 arrived at their homeport of Port Hueneme, California. This was the last full battalion to depart from Vietnam. Their departure marked the end of a significant chapter in the Seabee effort in Vietnam, an effort which began at Chu Lai in 1965 and resulted in the construction of approximately $200 million worth of facilities in support of U.S. forces.


November 8

1942: Seabees encountered their first combat in the European theater of operations when they landed with the assault forces on the beaches of North Africa. The Seabees built facilities at Oran, Casablanca, Safi, and Fedala. Later, as the American Army moved across Africa toward Tunisia and the final showdown with the Germans, the Seabees built staging and training areas along the coast as far as Arzeu. On the west coast of Africa, the Seabees built a huge Naval Air Station in Port Lyautey, Morocco and supplementary air and supply bases at Agadir and Casablanca. Through these later ports poured materials, men, and equipment needed for the coming invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland.

1944: 13th Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) inactivated.

1945: 20th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated on Okinawa.

1969: Seabee Teams 1113 and 1114 transferred to NMCB 3 to become Seabee Teams 0315 and 0316, respectively, due to disestablishment of NMCB 11.

1971: Seabee Teams 1021 and 1022 commenced Seabee Team Training.

[caption id="attachment_17441" align="alignnone" width="483"]
2011: Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 40, defended their camp in a simulated firefight as part of their final evaluation during a training exercise at Forth Hunter Liggett, California. NMCB 40 was participating in its final field training exercise and evaluation before their upcoming U.S. Pacific Command deployment in November. The battalion was scheduled for decommission at the conclusion of their deployment in September 2012. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

November 9

1945: 26th Special NCB inactivated on Oahu, Hawaii.

1965: NMCB 4 transferred to Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMCBPAC) from Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMCBLANT).

1970: NMCB 3 main body flights consisting of three passenger flights and two cargo flights departed Port Hueneme, California and arrived at Camp Haskins South, Republic of Vietnam (RVN).

1971: 3rd Naval Construction Brigade officially disestablished.

November 10

1945: 137th NCB inactivated on Okinawa. 16th Special NCB inactivated on Guam.


2001: The call came for NMCB 133 to provide direct support for Operation Enduring Freedom and an Air Det Heavy was stood up as U.S. Marine led coalition force for offensive operations in Afghanistan. Organized under Brigadier General Mattis, the 1st MEB commander out of Pendleton, the Air Det Heavy went in country on 28 November as Task Force 58.5 with the Operations Officer as the Air Det Heavy OIC being a direct report to the commanding general. The Air Det was organized in two elements, the small lead element of 27 Seabees to go to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Rhino to maintain a dry lake airstrip and provide rudimentary contingency construction and the remainder of the Air Det Heavy to follow on into Kandahar to help establish a permanent operating base by providing Rapid Runway Repair (RRR) and contingency construction. 2005: NMCB 3 turned over with NMCB 133 in Fallujah Iraq and redeployed to Kuwait in order to setup mainbody operations in Kuwait to support of Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) and Area Support Group, Kuwait. NMCB 3 established the new Main Body deployment site from scratch while integrating over 145 personnel from NMCB 21, and 139 personnel from the Army s 63rd Construction Support Element. NMCB 3 worked with the Army to develop a master plan for what is now the Seabee main body deployment site. While deployed to Kuwait, NMCB 3 successfully completed over 20,000 man days of tasking, and completed 58 tasked projects in direct support of the CFLCC mission.

November 11

1962: During Typhoon Karen which struck Guam, winds reached 142 miles per hour with gusts of up to 200 miles per hour. The typhoon injured hundreds of people and left nine dead. Damage to U.S. defense facilities reached $200 million. NMCB 5, stationed on Guam at the time of the typhoon, aided in restoring the wrecked island. The shops and much of the equipment of the Seabees had been destroyed, but with what they still had, they worked hard and fast. They erected plywood housing and canvas tents to shelter the homeless, cleared debris from roads and streets, and rebuilt bridges. Seabee electricians raised 1,000 new power line poles and restored light, power, and communications to the island. NMCB 11 arrived in December and a massive reconstruction program was started. By early 1963, Guam s naval facilities began to look normal again. 1968: An unnamed street in Gulfport, Mississippi was named Engram Drive in honor of Capt. Robert C. Engram, Gulfport Seabee Center commanding officer. [caption id="attachment_17510" align="alignnone" width="618"]
2005: Children living at the Thuri Park Tent Village lived in donated tents in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. U.S. Navy Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Seven Four (NMCB-74), built and installed latrines for displaced families. The United States was participating in a multi-national assistance and support effort led by the Pakistani Government to bring aid to the victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the region on 8 October 2005. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Seabee Museum)

November 12

1942: 43rd NCB activated at Camp Endicott, Davisville, Rhode Island. 1942: Camp Peary, Williamsburg, Virginia established. 1945: 111th NCB inactivated on Samar, Philippines. 1967: NMCB 5 advance party arrived at Camp Barnes, RVN. 1969: Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1 was established in the 21st NCR as a unit to conduct training and to perform construction, as required, to support Navy underwater projects. [caption id="attachment_17508" align="alignnone" width="492"]
2010: Captain John DeBerard, commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 18, and Chief Equipment Operator Joseph Zaleski conferred about safety as Seabees assigned to NMCB-18 constructed a Southwest Asian Hut onboard Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. NMCB-18, a reserve component battalion from the Pacific Northwest, was operating in the RC South Region of Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Seabee Museum)

November 13

1970: Cmdr. J.L. Godsey, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3, relieved Cmdr. F.M. Newcomb, CEC, commanding officer of NMCB 62, as camp commander, Camp Haskins South, Republic of Vietnam (RVN). 1970: Seabee Team 4004 returned from Xuan Loc, RVN for reassignment to NMCB 40.

November 14

1967: The first increment of NMCB 58 s advance party arrived at Da Nang, RVN. The commanding officer of NMCB 10 moved from Gia Le to the Quang Tri Forward Combat Base, RVN, and established the battalion headquarters there. 1968: Railroad Bridge No. 1, first of three being rebuilt by NMCB 1 s detail Foxtrot around Lap An Bay, RVN, is completed. 1969: NMCB 6 and 58 held decommissioning ceremonies at Davisville, Rhode Island. 1970: Lt. Cmdr. J. Perez relieved Lt. Cmdr. N.G. Ricker as executive officer of NMCB 1. 1983: NMCB 1, then deployed at Rota, Spain sent a survey team to Beirut after being alerted of a potential tasking in support of the U.S. Marines who were part of the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon. The tasking consisted of improving the living conditions of the Marines located at the Beirut International Airport. On Thanksgiving Day Detail Bravo Lima, consisting of 1 CEC officer and 38 Seabees departed the battalion main body for Beirut. In January 1984 the tasking was expanded; and on 5 January a second increment, consisting of an additional CEC officer and 39 Seabees was sent to Beirut. The battalion also shipped 61 pieces of equipment to Beirut in support of Detail Bravo Lima. The tasking was completed and the first increment returned on 17 February 1984; the second increment and the 61 pieces of equipment returned on 1 March 1984. This was the first involvement of Seabees under combat conditions since the Vietnam conflict. 2003: Presidential Unit Citation awarded to Seabees deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom under the First Marine Expeditionary Force Engineer Group (I MEG). These included the 30th NCR, NMCB 5, NMCB 74, NMCB 133, NMCB 4, Naval Construction Force Support Unit 2, Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2 Air Detachment, the 22nd Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), I MEG Command Element, NMCB 7, NMCB 15 Air Detachment, NMCB 21 Air Detachment, NMCB 25 Air Detachment, and Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 303 Detachment.