This Week in Seabee History (Week of Jan. 31)

Feb. 1, 2016 | By Seabee Magazine
Consolidated by Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
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VIRIN: 160201-N-ZY182-1450
Seabee Team 0809 erecting A quonset tool storage area, Can Tho, Republic of Vietnam, 1968 . (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

January 31

1944: 131st Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated at Camp Parks, Shoemaker, CA. Jan. 31 Feb. 28, 1946: 75th NCB inactivated at Samar, Philippines. Jan. 31 Mar. 1, 1946: 129th NCB inactivated at Samar, Philippines. 1964: Capt. Robert D. Larson, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), U.S. Navy (USN), relieved Capt. Earl R. Bennett, CEC, USN, as Commanding Officer, CBC, Port Hueneme, CA. 1967: Lt. Commander W.G. Landes relieved Commander L.D. Lawson as Executive Officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 58. 1968: Gia Le combat base received 20 to 30 rounds of 122mm rockets during the early morning hours. Four rounds received in the NMCB 3 camp. Equipment Operator Constructionman (EOCN) Lawrence N. Stangel killed in action, EON3 Gary W. Bert and CN Delbert T. Byes wounded. 1969: Seabee Team 0514 arrived in Vietnam and arrived in Phu Vinh on 4 February 1969. 2007: Rear Adm. Michael K. Loose promoted to Vice Adm. by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Mullen and assumed billet of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Fleet Readiness and Logistics). Vice Adm. Loose thus became only the second CEC officer ever, after Adm. Ben Moreell, to be promoted to vice admiral.

February 1

1943: 79th NCB commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Norfolk, VA. 1944: Seabees of Naval Construction Battalion 121 joined the Fourth Marine Division and landed on Roi and Namur, the northernmost islands of the Kwajalein atoll, while Army forces landed on its southern islands. A savage bombing and shelling all but destroyed both the enemy base and the defending force at Roi and Namur. Trees were uprooted and buildings destroyed. Clearing the debris and the dead was the first order of business, and the Seabees set to work. Members of Naval Construction Battalion 109 arrived a few days after the initial landings. The battalions ripped up and resurfaced Roi s triangle of three airstrips. Less than two weeks after the assault, a fighter squadron arrived to operate out of the base. On adjoining Namur, the Seabees built fuel tanks for an aviation supply depot and a pier. 1944: 138th NCB formed on Attu from Construction Battalion Maintenance Units (CBMUs) 547, 556, 576 and Construction Battalion Detachment (CBD) 1018. 1945: 23rd and 38th Naval Construction Regiments (NCRs) inactivated. 1955: United States Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (Special) was formed as part of the Construction Battalion U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Its mission was to build and support scientific bases in the Antarctic as part of Task Force Forty-three during Operation Deep Freeze I. Before the unit left the United States there were 166 men and 15 officers assigned to it. The commanding officer of the battalion was Cdr. Herbert W. Whitney, CEC, United States Navy Reserve (USNR). 1966: NMCB 40 was re-commissioned at Davisville, Rhode Island. Under the command of CDR Benjamin L. Saravia, CEC, USN, NMCB 40 was the first battalion reestablished in order to augment the Naval Construction Force for the Vietnam War. 1966: NMCB 9 main body moved from Da Nang, Republic of Vietnam (RVN) to Construction Battalion Center, Port Hueneme, CA. 1968: Commander J.F. O Leary, commanding officer, NMCB 8, officially took command of Camp Wilkinson, Phu Bai, RVN. 1968: NMCB 3 was relieved at Camp Wilkinson by NMCB 8. 1968: The NMCB 3 camp area received two rocket rounds during the lunch period. Seaman (SN) Richard L. Blevins was killed in action. One member of NMCB 8 was wounded in action. At the same time, NMCB 3 s fourth flight to the continental U.S. was mortared while emplaning at the Phu Bai Airport. 1968: Seabee Teams 4002 and 5802 graduated from Seabee Team Training and were assigned to Officer in Charge, Construction Battalions, Pacific Detachment, RVN, deploying to Go Cong and Soc Trang, respectively.

February 2

1943: 73rd NCB commissioned at Camp Peary, Magruder, VA. African-American 80th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Allen, Norfolk, VA. 83rd NCB commissioned in Norfolk, VA (exact camp unknown). 1945: 139th NCB commissioned at NCTC Camp Endicott, Davisville, RI. 1946: 31st Special NCB inactivated at Yokosuka, Japan. 1966: NMCB 9 turned over Camp Adenir, Da Nang, RVN to NMCB 11. 1969: Seabee Team 5803 deployed to the Republic of Vietnam for assignment to Officer in Charge, Construction Battalions, Pacific Detachment, for duty at Chau Phu.

February 3

1945: ACORN 36 decommissioned and Naval Air Base Orote commissioned. (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 0908 returned to the main body at Da Nang, RVN via C-118 aircraft from leave in the U.S. after completing a six-month deployment in Vietnam. 1967: NMCB 121 commissioned at CBC, Gulfport, MS.

February 6

1943: 85th NCB commissioned in Norfolk, VA (exact camp unknown). 1943: Acorn Training Detachment commissioned, Port Hueneme, CA. 1946: Last elements of 46th NCB inactivated at Shanghai, China. 1964: In reprisal for the arrest of Cuban fishermen who entered Florida coastal waters, the Cuban government cut off the water supply to the United States Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This action severed the base s last link with Cuba on the other side of the boundary fence. On the same day the United States authorized construction of a $10 million seawater desalinization and power plant at Guantanamo. Within hours, Seabees commenced site preparation. The plant went up in record time, and by late July was producing fresh water. Full operation was achieved in January 1965. Three flush-type evaporator units were producing a total of 2,250,000 gallons of water a day. Additionally, turbine generators produced a total of 15,000 kilowatts a day. 1967: Last flight of NMCB 4 main body arrived at Da Nang, RVN. 1967: UTP2 James O. Miller was mortally wounded at the NMCB 8 detachment site at Tam Ky when an 82mm mortar round exploded about five feet outside his berthing hut. Miller died several hours later after being evacuated to a hospital in Chu Lai.