By MCC Lowell Whitman, 30th NCR Public Affairs
Capt. James Meyer, commodore, Task Force Forager, greets a representative from the Da Nang People's Committee, Da Nang, Vietnam, Aug. 17. Vietnam is the fifth stop for the Military Sealift Command joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) and embarked Task Force Forager. (Photo by MC1 Carla Burdt/150817-N-MK341-039)
Naval Construction Regiment (NCR), embarked aboard USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) as Commander, Task Force Forager for Pacific Partnership 2015 (PP15), arrived in Da Nang, Vietnam, Aug. 17. The arrival marked just over 50 years and three months since the regiment was reactivated in Da Nang under Commander, Naval Construction Battalions, U.S. Pacific Fleet during the Vietnam War on May 10, 1965, and coincides with the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries 20 years ago.
"It is an honor to return to Vietnam 50 years after the regiment was re-activated in 1965 for the Vietnam War," said Capt. James Meyer, commodore, Task Force Forager. "Our return to Vietnam is a historical event that I am proud to be part of. The 30th NCR serving as a command element for Pacific Partnership 2015 continues to demonstrate the capability and flexibility of the regiment and the efforts the command has historically and is currently completing in the Pacific and in Vietnam."
The regiment's mission during the war was exercising operational control over mobile construction battalions deployed to Vietnam. It maintained liaisons with other military commands, assigned construction projects to Seabee engineering units and monitored their performance.
Aerial view of strongback tents converted to tin roofed huts at 7th Marine Engineer Camp, DaNang, Republic of Vietnam, Oct. 1966. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)
During its current visit, the regiment is using its command and control and engineering expertise to execute humanitarian and disaster relief-oriented activities.
Seabees from Amphibious Construction Battalion 1 and U.S. Air Force "RED HORSE" engineers will help renovate three medical buildings in Da Nang, as well as refurbish bathrooms at a disadvantaged children's center.
"These efforts have produced improved school facilities and expanded capabilities for medical care in these remote locations," said Master Chief Constructionman James White. "These efforts help us make a meaningful impact to people's lives as well as build lasting relationships with those we work alongside."
In addition, Pacific Partnership's U.S. and partner nation service members, as well as non-governmental organizations, will work together to conduct subject matter expert exchanges on various medical and disaster relief topics, host dental engagements and volunteer for community outreach events.
"Our current humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness mission with Pacific Partnership is a great way to return to Vietnam and also celebrate the 20th anniversary of normalized relations between the U.S. and Vietnam," said Meyer. "Today's Vietnam is very different than 50 years ago. Both our countries have developed and changed over the years, as has our relationship. We are looking forward to increase partnership and cooperation between our countries working together for peace, stability and security in the Pacific region."
NCR provides operational control over naval engineering forces throughout the Pacific, Southwest Asia and the western United States in response to combat commander and naval component commander requirements. They serve an integral part of the Naval Construction Force and accomplish major combat operations, theater security cooperation, humanitarian assistance, disaster recovery and Phase Zero requirements across the Pacific area of responsibility.
Today, more than 4,000 active duty and reserve Sailors are assigned to the Pacific Fleet Seabees. Construction tasks in the Pacific range from renovating living quarters, ports and airfields, to constructing major operational training and support facilities.
Disaster relief and helping others help themselves is a part of the Seabee tradition. Seabees have the capability to provide relief after natural disasters, which includes providing temporary berthing and utilities, cleaning debris, restoring communication systems, and repairing damaged homes, buildings and base structures.
Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. While training for crisis conditions, Pacific Partnership missions to date have provided medical care to approximately 270,000 patients and veterinary services to more than 38,000 animals. Additionally, PP15 has provided critical infrastructure development to host nations through the completion of more than 180 engineering projects.