Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 held a change of command ceremony at Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme, California, June 4.
Cmdr. Andrew Olsen relieved Cmdr. Ryan Carey as Commanding Officer of NMCB-5.
“Thanks to the skipper’s family for the hard work and the sacrifice. Two years in a skipper tour is something else,” said the guest speaker and guest of honor, Capt. Matthew Riethmiller, Commander, Naval Construction Group One.
Throughout Carey’s time at NMCB-5, he led the Seabees through a historic COVID-19 extended deployment. The Seabees worked on more than 40 projects taking 29,000 man-days of construction. This ranged from a landfill capping project supporting Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, to building and renovating elementary schools in remote islands—such as Timor-Leste and Pohnpei, the Federated States of Micronesia; and Palawan, Philippines.
“NMCB-5 is an incredible unit,” said Carey. “If COVID-19 has taught me anything over the last year, it is that none of us is an island no matter how isolated we are. We are stronger when we serve together.”
During his charge, NMCB-5 restructured how they approach field exercises in a dispersed way. They enforced small unit leadership and self-sufficiency with the separate detail sites and completed expeditionary engineering through bridge building, pile-driving exercises as part of pier damage repair, quarry operations, and road construction—layering multiple detail sites, construction projects, and scenarios.
NMCB-5 also launched a broad range of emerging technologies throughout their short homeport training cycle. They integrated improved engineering platforms, such as additive manufacturing, bridge repair, light detection and ranging, engineering reconnaissance, rapid soil densitometry, and automated surveillance.
Although NMCB-5 accomplished several milestones throughout the past two years, the battalion also experienced the loss of two shipmates.
“Almost twenty-three months ago from this podium, I told you that you were a good and ready battalion, but that being good and ready in the traditional sense wasn’t enough,” added Carey. “Warfighting readiness is imperative as tensions across the Indo-Pacific region rise and threats to partners, allies, and U.S. interests there and at home increase.
“What I know, though, is that warfighting readiness is not achieved through precision drills and execution or the perfect execution of tightly choreographed exercises. Warfighting readiness is forged through adversity, uncertainty, and loss, getting the job done under the most extreme human conditions.”
Before arriving at NMCB-5, Olsen was the Public Works Officer at Naval Base Ventura County.
Some of Olsen’s previous Navy tours include NMCB-4 as the officer in charge of Task Force Sierra Detachment 2 and Charlie Company Commander; First Naval Construction Division, Norfolk, Virginia, where he served as the aide to the commander. He also served as the Facilities Engineering and Acquisition Division director in Rota, Spain; NMCB-11’s operations officer in Gulfport, Mississippi; the staff civil engineer at U.S. Seventh Fleet, Yokosuka, Japan; and was the Civil Engineer Corps Lt. Cmdr. detailer at Navy Personnel Command.
Additionally, Olsen is a licensed professional civil engineer in Virginia, a Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist, a Joint Professional Military Education Phase I credited officer, and a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps.
His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (five awards), Navy Achievement Medal (two awards), and the 2014 Admiral Ben Moreell Medal.
“To the amazing men and women of NMCB-5, thank you for your time and energy in preparing this wonderful ceremony. I look forward to serving as your commanding officer,” said Olsen. “I will work every single day to earn and keep your trust. I am 100% committed to each of you and our battalion. Together, we will continue to strive for excellence and keep our skills sharp while we adapt and overcome every challenge that we face together in this dynamic environment.”
NMCB-5 is homeported in Port Hueneme, California, and will deploy to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility in July 2021.