Story by ETC Joshua Clower, NMCB 133
Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 Det. Guam worked day and night to conduct a 48-hour fly-in echelon (FIE) mount out directly followed by a 24 hour expeditionary airfield damage repair (EX-ADR) mount out by sea onboard Naval Base Guam, from Oct. 20-23. The purpose of the training exercise is to test the ability of the battalion to assemble, plan, communicate, inspect equipment, and supplies in preparation for both air and sea movement.
"This exercise was not just hosing off a few high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMVW) and giving ourselves a high five when we were done. We had actual United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors working with us to clear our vehicles and pallets for shipment, and we convoyed our vehicles to realistic points of embarkation as if we were responding to a real-world event. The whole evolution was a great learning experience, especially for such a junior crew." said Lt. J.G. Veronica Walker, Assistant Officer in Charge (AOIC) for NMCB 133 DET Guam.
The mount out preparations began months before the actual exercise to simulate responding to a real-world event. The Battalion was able to identify how each step of the embarkation process is executed specifically on the island of Guam, establish key relationships and open communications with important points of contact throughout the island, and identify any issues that would halt or slow the mount out process. For example, during the exercise NMCB 133 DET Guam worked in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors to meet real-word embarkation requirements from Guam to off-island destinations. The battalion prepared civil engineering support equipment (CESE) and non-CESE items to be loaded and convoyed to NWF on Andersen Air Force Base and to Victor Wharf onboard Naval Base Guam, all while maintaining communication at every station during the exercise.
"Practicing critical skills that are relevant to major combat operations is vital to ensuring we are ready to respond in 48 hours if called upon," said Senior Chief Equipment Operator Ronald Bishop, Operations Officer for NMCB 133 DET Guam, "It's so important that we drive military combat operations (MCO) knowledge down to the deckplates and ensure our troops are trained and armed with the skills required to support whatever mission is thrown our way."
NMCB 133 conducted training the week prior to the exercise for Seabees to review the basics of hazardous declaration (HAZDEC), load planning, shoring and pallet building. Seabees reviewed the computer programs for load planning, operational testing, and embarkation scheduling which gave them a better understanding of what documentation is required for each module of the table of allowance (TOA) and how it is loaded into SLP.
The exercise began with the battalion being tasked with a fragmentation order (FRAGO) and manning of the MOCC to begin coordinating movement and tracking CESE and non-CESE throughout the embarkation process to NWF and Victor Wharf.
Seabees managed 24-hour operations washing and preparing each piece of CESE. After the CESE was cleaned it was inspected by an agricultural team to ensure it met all agricultural travel requirements needed to be shipped out of Guam. Construction mechanics inspected and performed preventative and interim repairs on vehicles prior to embarkation. The embark team was in charge of weighting and marking, building the shoring, palletizing materials, collecting important information for each piece of equipment, blocking and bracing and preparing the shipments at the staging area. The exercise ended with a joint inspection with an Air Force loadmaster before the pallets and CESE can be loaded onto the airplane.
"The troops maintained a high tempo completing every milestone ahead of schedule despite moving the FIE 25 miles to Andersen Airforce Base and the EX-ADR four miles to the port" said Utilitiesman 1st Class Jedediah P. Jones, Maintenance Operations Coordination Center (MOCC) Board Stander for NMCB 133 DET Guam. "For MOX to succeed we needed everyone to do their part and cover down the gaps. We had Constructionmen tasked originally in pallet building assisting Alfa by jumping in on convoys to fill A-driver positions, forklift operators operating tractor trailers then downloading their own equipment, and a selfless communications team standing 12 hour watches all over the island keeping everyone informed of movements. It truly was an all hands effort for success."
NMCB 133 DET Guam was able prepare and stage 10 units of CESE and 16 TRICONs at Andersen Air Force Base, and 16 units of CESE and one TRICON at the Naval Base Guam port for sea transit. They were able to exceed all timelines and complete all evolutions safely and completely.
"This exercise couldn't have been more relevant. We pushed two naval construction force (NCF) modules in support of major combat operations; by both sea and air highlighting critical embarkation skills during training. Adding USDA/BIO inspectors, created realistic measures giving us data that's not calculated during homeport exercises. The knowledge we gained from this particular exercise will pave the way we do MOX in the near future. As Seabees we move ourselves! By sea or air, WE CAN DO said Equipment Operator 1st Class Crystal M. Morris, Embark Chief for NMCB 133 DET Guam.
Homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi, NMCB 133 DET Guam is forward-deployed to execute construction, support Major Combat Operations and theater security cooperation in the U.S. 7th Fleet areas of operation.