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This Week in Seabee History: July 4 - 10

July 6, 2021 | By U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Naval History and Heritage Command

July 4

1942: Advance Base Depot (ABD), Davisville, Rhode Island, formally commissioned.

1968: Twelve Seabees reported to the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) for duty with Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 302 two days late. While bound for Vietnam, the aircraft was forced down by Russian jets on a small island near Japan. The American crew and passengers were detained for 48 hours before the U.S. military-chartered aircraft was released by the Russians. The incident occurred because the Russians claimed the aircraft had violated Soviet air space.

July 5

1942: The 4th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) arrived at Dutch Harbor, Alaska. This was the first Seabee battalion to arrive in that area. Because of the variety of construction needs in Alaska, the battalion was employed at three different locations: one detachment of approximately 200 men went to Eider Point; another detachment of about 350 men went to Unalaska Village on Unalaska Island; and the remaining men were quartered in the Fort Mears Area on Amaknak Island.

1943: The 95th NCB was commissioned at Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC), Camp Peary, Magruder, Virginia.

1966: A change of command for NMCB 6 was held with Cmdr. J.D. Day Jr., Civil Engineer Corps (CEC), relieving Lt. Cmdr. H.A. Tombari, CEC.

1970: At an awards ceremony in Davisville, Rhode Island, the 21st Naval Construction Regiment (NCR) and 20th NCR, and Commander, Construction Battalions, Atlantic (COMCBLANT) were awarded the Navy Meritorious Unit Citation for meritorious service from September 1, 1965 to December 31, 1969.

July 6

1944: ACORN 9 was decommissioned. (Used during World War II, an ACORN was a tailored unit designed to carry out the rapid construction and subsequent operation of a landplane and seaplane advance base. Each ACORN had a construction battalion attached to it, as well as trained personnel to operate the control tower, field lighting, aerological unit, transportation, medical, berthing and messing facilities. A CBMU also accompanied each ACORN to maintain the base after the initial construction was completed and the construction battalion had been withdrawn. During the war, ACORNs were sent to such places at Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, Green Island, Rendova, Treasury Island and Majuro.)

1945: The 51st NCR was commissioned.

1953: NMCB 11 was activated.

July 7

1968: Cmdr. L.D. Lawson, CEC, relieved Cmdr. R.B. Wilson, CEC, for NMCB 7.

2009: NMCB 11 presented the battalion colors at Camp Mitchell, Rota, Spain, reestablishing the base after closing down Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

2011: Cmdr. James (Gordie) Meyer, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Jayson Mitchell, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 7 during a change of command ceremony at Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi.

July 8

1945: The 50th NCR was commissioned.

2016: Cmdr. James Cho, CEC, relieved Cmdr. Jeffrey Lengkeek, CEC, as commanding officer of NMCB 4 during a change of command ceremony aboard Camp Shields in Okinawa, Japan.

July 9

1942: The 12th NCB was commissioned at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Virginia.

1967: At a dedication ceremony, the NMCB 9 campsite was named in honor of Utilitiesman Plumber 2nd Class James Miller, who was mortally wounded on February 6, 1967.

July 10

1943: The Seabees introduced their secret weapon on the beaches of Sicily: the famed magic boxes, steel pontoon sections which revolutionized the strategy of amphibious warfare. The German and Italian defenders were dug in along the northern coastline of Sicily where the best beaches were located. There was only one thing wrong with the German strategy. They had not heard of the new development for joining pontoons to form invasion causeways. Capt. John N. Laycock, CEC, developed a method to join pontoons together by angle iron and bolting pads so that a string of these connected pontoons became a solid structure of cantilevered integrity. On July 10, 1943 the Allied armada appeared off the southern coast between Scoglitti and Licata, and sent infantry ashore across long strings of steel pontoons. Other pontoon structures constructed by the Seabees included the rhino ferry and the landing tug. Each was made by simply putting together a couple dozen pontoons and an outboard motor.

1945: The 6th Special Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) inactivated at Oahu, Hawaii.

1951: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 was activated.

1958: When dissident elements in Lebanon threatened to overthrow the government of that country, the U.S. 6th Fleet cruising in the Mediterranean was sent to Beirut to establish and maintain order, at the request of the Lebanese government. Seabees of Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 2 attached to the fleet participated in the action with their pontoon causeways when U.S. Marines landed, and again when the Marines re-embarked several months later. The men of ACB 2 not only participated in the landings, but the battalions Beach Salvage Teams also reclaimed broached boats and swamped vehicles, and improved beaches and roads. In addition, the Seabees in Lebanon built a road from the beaches to the Beirut airport.