Seabee

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Naval Construction Battalions
USN-Seabees-Insignia.svg
The Seabee logo
Active 5 March 1942 – present
Country United States
Branch  United States Navy
Role Militarized construction
Size
  • 7,000 active personnel
  • 6,927 Reserve personnel
  • 13,815 total
Nickname(s) Seabees
Motto(s)
  • Latin: Construimus, Batuimus
  • "We build. We fight"
  • "CAN DO"
  • "The difficult we do now, the impossible takes a little longer"
CB Navy Yard Bougainville with the Seabee Expression - Seabee Museum
3rd Marine Division, 2nd Raider's sign on Bougainville. 53rd NCB was the shore party to the 2nd Raiders of Green beach D-day - Seabee Museum

United States Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Seabees. Their name is a heterograph of the first initials "C.B." from the words Construction Battalion. The CBs form the NCF or US Naval Construction Force. [1] [2]

Naval Construction Battalions were conceived of as a replacement for civilian construction companies working for the US Navy after the United States was drawn into World War II with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. International law made it illegal for civilians to resist enemy attack, doing so would classify them as guerrillas, for which they could be summarily executed.[3] The Seabees would consist of skilled workers that would be trained to drop their tools if necessary and take up their weapons at a moments notice to defend themselves.[4][5] The concept model: A USMC–trained Battalion of construction tradesmen (a military equivalent of those civilian Companies) that would be capable of: any type of construction, anywhere needed, under any conditions or circumstance. It was quickly realized that this model could be utilized in every theater of operations as it was seen to be flexible and adaptable. The use of USMC organization allowed for smooth co-ordination, integration or interface of both the NCF and Marine Corps elements. In addition, Seabee Battalions could be deployed individually or in multiples as the project scope and scale dictated. What distinguishes Seabees from Combat Engineers are the skill sets. Combat Engineering is but a sub-set in the Seabee toolbox. They have a storied legacy of creative field ingenuity, stretching from Normandy and Okinawa to Iraq and Afghanistan. Admiral King wrote to the Seabees on their second anniversary, “Your ingenuity and fortitude have become a legend in the naval service.”[6] Seabees believe that anything they are tasked with they "Can Do" (the CB motto). They were unique at conception and remain so today. In the October 1944 issue of Flying magazine the Seabees are described as " a phenomenon of world war II ".[7] In 2017, the Seabees celebrate their 75 years of service without having changed from Admiral Ben Moreell's conceptual model.

History[edit]

U.S. Naval predecessors[edit]

War of 1812[edit]

As far back as the War of 1812, US Navy seamen were employed in large numbers for major shore construction. In 1813, Essex, under command of Captain David Porter, rounded Cape Horn from the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the first Navy ship to carry the American flag into the Pacific Ocean. After capturing several British ships he discovered that a British naval squadron had been sent to search for him. Needing to repair and prepare Essex and his small squadron, he sailed for the Marquesas Islands to find a suitable site for him to build the US Navy's first "advanced base".

Selecting a bay on Nuku Hiva Island, Porter sent nearly 300 skilled artisans from his ships, which along with approximately 4,000 friendly natives, constructed Fort Madison along with numerous other buildings. During construction they were occasionally attacked by unfriendly natives, during which they would have to lay down their tools and take up their weapons to defend what they were building.[8]

World War I[edit]

It wasn't until World War I that Navy craftsmen would be employed in large number again. In 1917, the Twelfth Regiment (Public Works) was organized at Naval Training Station Great Lakes.[8]

When the US entered World War I in April 1917, the Navy had an immediate requirement to expand the Great Lakes Station in order to house, process, and train 20,000 naval recruits, this number would rise to 50,000 by the end of the year.[8]

Lieutenant Norman Smith, a graduate of the US Naval Academy, was appointed Public Works Officer at Great Lakes on 18 June 1917, at which time about 100 enlisted men had been assigned to the Public Works Department.[8]

Seeing that the department would need to expand with skilled craftsmen, architects, draftsmen, designers, and other professional and technical people, he began to screen incoming recruits with these skills. Finding many, but not enough, he expanded to recruiting civilians outside of the installation, getting many men willing to join the Navy as petty officers, with the understanding that qualified men could later apply for commissions.[8]

This allowed the Public Works Department to grow to nearly 600 men by July 1917. They were organized into the Twelfth Regiment (Public Works), which was essentially the Public Works Department because staff officers could not exercise military command. Lieutenant William C. Davis was appointed commanding officer of the regiment, he exercised military control, but the Public Works Officers exercised technical control.[8]

In October 1917, the regiment began building Camp Paul Jones. With its completion, on 30 December 1917, the regiment became "fully operational" with 1,500 men organized into three battalions.[8]

By April 1918, the regiment consisted of 2,400 in five battalions. Men were withdrawn for assignments in the US and abroad. In spring of 1918, 100 men were given special mechanics and ordnance training before being sent to St. Nazaire, France, to assemble Naval Railway Batteries. Later they would join the gun crews and perform combat duties along the railway lines in proximity to the German lines.[8]

The Twelfth Regiment reached its peak strength 5 November 1918; 55 officers and 6,211 enlisted men formed into 11 battalions. However, with the end of the war on 11 November 1918, the regiment gradually faded away by the end of 1918.[8]

Formation[edit]

In the early 1930s, the idea that the Twelfth Regiment pioneered was still in the minds of many Navy Civil Engineers. The planners of the Bureau of Yards and Docks (BuDocks) began providing for "Navy Construction Battalions" in their contingency war plans. In 1934 Captain Carl Carlson's version of the plan was circulated to the Navy Yards, this idea of "Navy Construction Battalions" would later be tentatively approved by Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral William Harrison Standley. In 1935, Rear Admiral Norman Smith, Chief of BuDocks, selected Captain Walter Allen, the War Plans Officers, to represent BuDocks on the War Plans Board. Captain Allen presented the bureau's concept of "Naval Construction Battalions" to the Board. The concept was later adopted for inclusion in the Rainbow war plans.[8] Later, once the Seabees were created, they named their first Training Center for Captain Allen.

However, a major weakness to this "Navy Construction Battalions" concept was that there would be dual control of the battalions; military control would be exercised by Navy officers while the construction side would be controlled the Navy Civil Engineer Corp officers. There would be no provision for good military organization and military training, which was felt to be requisite to creating high morale, discipline, and cooperation among the men. The plans also only allowed for the battalions to be formed to build training stations throughout the US and only on completion be moved to forward areas.[8]

Rear Admiral Ben Moreell became the Chief of BuDocks in December 1937, a post he would hold through the war. With tensions rising in both Europe and Asia, authorization was sought, and quickly received, by the United States Congress for expansion of naval shore bases. New construction was started in the Caribbean and Central Pacific in 1939. These were awarded to private construction firms that would perform the work with civilian personnel under the administrative direction of a Navy Officer in Charge of Construction.[8]

World War II[edit]

The Naval Infantry Battalion Flag, historically used for ships' landing parties and adopted by the Construction Battalions. - U.S. Navy
USMC directed fixed bayonett drill at Camp Peary NTC, VA in 1943. - Seabee Museum

By summer of 1941 civilian contractors were working on large naval bases at Guam, Midway, Wake, Pearl Harbor, Iceland, Newfoundland, Bermuda, and many other places. BuDocks decided there was a need to improve the Navy's supervision of these projects through the creation of "Headquarters Construction Companies". The men in these companies would report to the Officers in Charge of Construction and would be draftsmen and engineering aids needed for the administrative functions of the inspectors and supervisors overseeing the contracted work. These companies would consist of two officers and 99 enlisted men, but were not to do any actual construction. Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, authorized the formation of the first Headquarters Construction Company, on 31 October 1941. Recruitment started in November and as history would have it the company was formed on 7 December[6] with the men undergoing boot training at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. By 16 December 1941, four additional companies had been authorized, but 7 December happened, plans changed and with them the ratings needed by a change in mission. The first Hq Construction Company provided the nucleus for the formation of the 1st Naval Construction Detachment sent to Bora bora in January 1942. Those men were part of Operation Bobcat[9] and are known in Seabee history as the "Bobcats". In December 1941, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of BuDocks, recommended establishing Navy Construction Battalions and on the 28th requested authority to carry this out. On 5 January 1942, he got the go-ahead from the Navy's Bureau of Navigation to recruit construction tradesmen for three Naval Construction Battalions. When Admiral Moreell submitted his request to form those Battalions the other four Hq Construction Companies had been approved and authorized, so Hq Companies 2 & 3 were combined to form the 1st Naval Construction Battalion (and then were deployed as the 2nd & 3rd Construction Detachments) followed by Hq Companies 4 & 5 being combined to form the 2nd Naval Construction Battalion (and deployed as the 4th and 5th Construction Detachments).[8] While those four Hq Companies provided the nucleus for two Construction Battalions they were all deployed in a manner similar to the First Construction Detachment and this sort of thing continued through the 5th NCB.[10] It was 6 NCB that was the first Battalion to deploy as a unit to the same place.[10]

Before all this could happen, a major problem still confronting BuDocks was who would command the Construction Battalions. Naval regulations stated that military command of naval personnel was strictly limited to line officers, yet BuDocks deemed it essential that these Construction Battalions be commanded by officers of the Civil Engineer Corp, who were trained in the skills required for construction work. The newly formed Bureau of Naval Personnel (BuPers), successor to the Navy's Bureau of Navigation, strongly opposed this proposal.[11] Admiral Moreell took the question personally to the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, who, on 19 March 1942, gave authority for officers of the Civil Engineer Corps to exercise military authority over all officers and enlisted men assigned to construction units.[11]

The first men in the Seabees were not raw recruits trade wise, they were recruited for their experience and skills and were given advanced rank for it. As a group they were the highest paid the United States had in uniform during WWII[12] To find the men with the necessary qualifications, physical standards were less rigid than other branches of the armed forces. The age range was 18–50, with the average of 37, during the first years of the war. These first men had helped build Hoover Dam, the national highways, and New York's skyscrapers; who had worked in mines and quarries and dug subway tunnels; who had worked in shipyards and built docks and wharfs and even ocean liners and aircraft carriers. After December 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that men for the Construction Battalions had to be obtained through the Selective Service System. By that time 60 CBs had been formed. However, men could enlist and then volunteer for the Seabees with a written statement that they were trade qualified.[13] This lasted until October 1943 when voluntary enlistment in the Seabees ceased until December 1944.[13] During this period the recruits were generally younger and had much less developed skill sets due to their age.[11] By the end of the war 325,000 had enlisted in the Seabees, with training in more than 60 skilled trades. Almost 11,400 officers would join the Civil Engineer Corps during World War II with 7,960 of them having served with the Seabees.[11]

Recruits would receive three weeks of training at Camp Allen, Norfolk, Virginia, later Camp Bradford, Little Creek, Virginia and later still Camp Peary NTC, in Williamsburg, Virginia. The first five battalions were sent directly overseas because of the urgent need of immediate construction of war dictated infra-structure. The newly formed battalions that followed, would be sent to one of the Advance Base Depots and Naval Training Centers (NTC) at Davisville, RI., Gulfport, MS., or Port Hueneme, CA. The Davisville Advanced Base Depot became operational in June 1942, and on 11 August 1942, the Naval Construction Training Center(NTC), known as Camp Endicott, was commissioned. That Camp trained over 100,000 Seabees during World War II. Camp Thomas, a personnel-receiving station on the base, was established in October. Camp Rousseau at Port Hueneme became operational in May 1942. This base was responsible for staging about 175,000 Seabees directly to the efforts in the Pacific.[11] The other CB Camps were: Camp Hollyday, Gulfport MS, Camp Parks, Livermore, CA. and Camp Lee-Stephenson, Quoddy, Maine.

The original purpose of the Seabees was the construction of Advance Bases in the Pacific[14] as laid out by the Office of Naval Operations.[15] These bases were code-named: i.e. BOBCAT (this was the small first Advance Base Operation at Bora bora), and then came LIONs, CUBs, [16] [17] [18] OAKs and ACORNs. The names were metaphors for base size with LION being a Main Fleet Advance Base(these were numbered 1–4 with Lion 1 on Espiritu Santo).[19] A CUB was a Secondary Fleet Base (these were numbered 1–12, starting with Efate, Tongatabu,and Munda[20]) and were 1/4 the size of a Lion. OAK an ACORN were the names given repurposed enemy air bases captured in an amphibious assault.[15][21](CBs constructed, repaired or upgraded 111 major airfields with the number of acorn fields unknown)[22] Acorn 1 was built at Aola, Guadalcanal, Acorn 8 was on Munda, Acorn 15 was Bougainville[23] and Acorn 17 was on Tarawa.[24] When these plans were drawn up it was thought that two CBs would be what was needed to construct a Lion installation.[15] This basic idea so grew and evolved that with the invasion of Okinawa the U.S. Navy put 4 Naval Construction Brigades of 55,000 Seabees on that island This was not Combat Engineering. This was building the infra-structure required to take the War to Japan. Along the way, the Navy had realised that it also needed Advance Base Construction Depots (ABCDs) to get the job done. So the Seabees built them at: 1. Noumea, 2. Pearl Harbor, 3. Brisbane, 4. Milne Bay, 5. Samar, 6. Subic Bay, 7.Okinawa).[25] By the end of 1943 the Seabees had constructed over 300 different advanced bases on as many islands.[26] More than 325,000 men served with the Seabees in World War II, fighting and building on six continents and hundreds of islands. In the Pacific, they built 111 major airstrips, 441 piers, bridges, roads, tanks for the storage of 100,000,000 US gal (380,000,000 l; 83,000,000 imp gal) of fuel, hospitals for 700,000 patients, and housing for 1.5 million men.[27][28]

Globeanchor.svg = Fleet Marine Force Combat Operation Insignia = for Seabees and Corpsman[29]

53rd NCB first insignia : Naval Construction Battalion 1st Marine Amphibious Corps Seabee Museun
19th Naval Construction Battalion Plaque. The battalion was assigned to the 1st Marine Amphibious Corps and later redesignated 3rd Battalion 17th Marines / 1st Marine Division. . . Seabee Museum

Seabee identity was an issue when the branch was first organized that continued for most of the war. Starting in 1942 the Marines made efforts to incorporate Construction Battalions into the Marine Corps with Battalions 17–20 being issued USMC dufflebags and uniforms.[30][31][32] In the record of the 18th NCB, it claims that it was the first CB to be authorized to wear the USMC uniform. How many other Battalions received the USMC issue is not recorded but it is known that the 25th, 43rd,[33] 76th NCB[34] and 121st did also.[35] But, going back to the 1st Naval Construction Detachment (a.k.a. Bobcats),[9] The Marines redesignated them the 3rd Battalion 22nd Marines.[36] They were the very first Seabees and that was only the beginning. Right after them part of the 4th Naval Construction Detachment was assigned to the 5th Marine Defense Battalion on Funafuti for two years.[10] The Bureau of Yards and Docks original request of 28 December 1941 was for the authorization of 3 Construction Battalions.[37] and, it is written that early in the war 3 Seabee Battalions were attached to Marine Divisions as Combat Engineers[38] When those three Battalions were formed the Seabees did not have a base of their own yet. So, upon leaving Navy boot, those men were sent to National Youth Administration camps in Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Virginia to receive military training from the Marine Corps.[39] It is also written the Marines wanted a Seabee Battalion for each Division in the Pacific, but were told no because of war priorities.[38] However, by autumn 1942, things changed with a CB being assigned to each of the four existing Marine Divisions.[40] Those Battalions were posted to composite Engineer Regiments[41] and redesignated as the 3rd Battalion in their Regiment.[40] (see 16th Marine Regiment, 17th Marine Regiment,[42] 18th Marine Regiment,[43] 19th Marine Regiment, and 20th Marine Regiment[44])(a footnote to these Regiments: due to the men in the CBs being given advanced rank upon enlistment the enlisted Marines referred to Construction Battalions as "Sergeant's Battalions". USMC sargents do not pull guard duty so the ranked Seabees would not be assigned)[45] In August C Company 18th NCB was transferred to the C.B. Replacement Group, Fleet Marine Force, San Diego. The rest of the 18th was sent to the Fleet Marine Force Base Depot, Norfolk, VA. en route to Guadalcanal,.[46] In November the 14th NCB landed with the 2nd Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal. Also in November the 25th NCB was transferred to the Marines until August 1945 (both operationally and administratively).[47] The 33rd had 202 men posted to the 1st Pioneers as shore party for the 1st Marine Division on Peleliu[48] as was the entire 17th Special NCB(segregated). [49] [50] [51] .[52] [53] The 47th sent a detachment to Enogi Island assigned to the 1st and 4th Marine Raiders.[36] The 121st NCB started out at Camp LeJune before being sent to Camp Pendleton. There it had to wait for the 4th Marine Division to be formed in order to be assigned to the 20th Marines. Two months earlier the 24th NCB supported the landing of the 9th Marine Defense Battalion on Rendova.[54] In 1944 the Marine Engineer Regiments were inactivated. Before that happened, Commander Brockenbrough of the 71st NCB was named the Shore party Commander for the 3rd Marine Division on Bougainville with his Battalion supported by elements of the 25th, 53rd, and the 75th NCBs(and as well as the Marines).[55] The 75th had a 100-man detachment volunteer to land with a Company of 1st Marines at Torokino Point Bougainville.[56] Even with the Engineer Regiments inactivated each Marine Division still had a CB Battalion posted TAD and now the Marines had formed up two additional Divisions. For Iwo Jima the 31st, 62nd, and 133rd NCBs were TAD to the 5th, 3rd, and 4th Marine Divisions. For Okinawa it was the 58th, 71st, and 145th NCBs that were TAD to the 6th, 2nd, and 1st Marine Divisions. In addition, CB Battalions were posted TAD to the various Amphibious Corps. The 19th NCB was assigned to the I Marine Amphibious Corps(I MAC)[57] prior to being assigned to the 17th Marines. The 53rd NCB was also posted to I MAC as an element of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landing in the second wave with the 2nd Raiders on Bougainville and 3rd Raiders on Puruata Island.[58][59] For Guam, the III Amphibious "Corps had the 2nd Special NCB and 25th NCB. V Amphibious corps (VAC)had the 23rd Special on Iwo Jima. In addition, it should be noted that the 6th Naval Construction Brigade used VAC's insignia as a part of the Brigade's indicating they were posted to V Amphibious Corps as well.[60](the 6th Brigade was composed of : the 29th Rgt. with CBs; 18,[40] 50, 92, 107, & the 135th, the 30th Rgt. with CBs: 13, 67, 121,[40]& the 123rd, and the 49th Rgt. with CBs: 9, 38, 110, & the 112th (and the 27th Special)[61]).[62] But, stepping back again to Iwo Jima, there the 31st and 133rd were not redesignated. The Marines were short Marines and the Seabees were ordered to fill in. C Co 31st NCB was a component of the 5th Shore Party Regiment and was on the beach D-day. The 31st NCB's Demolitions Section was under Divisional control through D-plus 10 with the 5th Marine Division on red and green beaches.[63] 133 was posted to the 23rd Marines as their Shore Party.[64] The Battalion was deorganized with the Companies posted to the assault as follows: A Co – 1/23, B Co – 2/23, C Co – 3/23, and D Co – 2/25.(see Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133) Even when they were not directly assigned there were numerous times Seabees and Marines were under fire side by side. The records shows that this started with 6 NCB on Guadalcanal and continued through to the 145th on Okinawa. In the fall of 1943 two sections or about half of the 6th Special NCB were sent to the Russells with the 4th Marines Advance Depot.[65] But, in the end, with the Navy insisting upon service separation the CBs did not become USMC. Instead, the Seabees ended up with the most unique interservice interaction the U.S.Marine Corps has with any other U.S. Military component.[66] Their historian, W.B. Huie wrote that the two have a camaraderie unknown elsewheres in the military.[67]

It should be added that even though they are "Navy" the Seabees adopted USMC fatigues with a Seabee insignia in place of the globe and anchor. During WWII a number of CBs adapted USMC insignia for their units, these included CBs 19, 25, 53, 117 and the 6th Brigade. The insignia modified were the globe and anchor, bulldog, alligator with 3 stars, and a divisional crest.

  • Historical note: The 23rd Marine Regiment had Seabees as Shore Party twice, first on Saipan and then on Iwo Jima. Seabees were Shore Party for the Marines on Bougainville[68], Peleliu[69] Guam[70], Purata Island[71], Roi-Namur[72] , Saipan[73], Iwo Jima[74], and Okinawa.[75]. The Marines deployed them as combat engineers at Cape Gloucester[76] and Tarawa[77].
  • Historical note: In Australia the 1st Marine Division organized a shooting competition to demonstrate their marksmanship. It gained notoriety as the "Battle of Melbourne" with the 19th Seabees taking first prize.[78]
Bronze eagle atop globe covering anchor

This ribbon is an example of the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with the Fleet Marine Force Combat Operation Insignia (a "Restricted" device for medals and ribbons). The restrictions being: that the Naval personnel had to be under fire with the Marines and under USMC "Operational" control.[79] The Marine Corps considers this device to be a personal award. Ribbons would also have arrowheads to indicate landing in assaults and a star to indicate the campaign. Some Battalions issued award numerals instead of stars.[80]

The Seabees were officially organized in the Naval Reserve on 31 December 1947. With the general demobilization following the war, the Naval Construction Battalions (NCBs) were reduced to 3,300 men on active duty by 1950.[81] Between 1949 and 1953, Naval Construction Battalions were organized into two types of units: Amphibious Construction Battalions (ACBs) and Mobile Construction Battalions (MCBs), which were later designated Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs) in the early- to mid-1960s to eliminate confusion with Marine Corps Base (MCB) in Vietnam.

Korean War[edit]

The Korean War saw a call-up of more than 10,000 men. The expansion of the Seabees came from the Naval Reserve Seabee program where individuals volunteered for active duty. The Seabees landed at Inchon with the assault troops. They fought enormous tides as well as enemy fire and provided causeways within hours of the initial landings. Their action here and at other landings emphasized the role of the Seabees, and there was no Seabee demobilization when the truce was declared.

During the Korean War, the Navy realized they needed a naval air station in this region. Cubi Point in the Philippines was selected, and civilian contractors were initially selected for the project. After seeing the forbidding Zambales Mountains and the maze of jungle, they claimed it could not be done.

The Navy then turned to the Seabees. The first Seabees to arrive were MCB-3 on 2 October 1951; followed by MCB-5 on 5 November 1951. Over the next five years, MCB-2, −7, −9, −11 and −13 were also deployed to Cubi Point.

Seabees cut a mountain in half to make way for a nearly two-mile-long runway. Cubi Point turned out to be one of the largest earth-moving projects in the world, equivalent to the construction of the Panama Canal. The $100 million facility was commissioned on 25 July 1956, and comprised an air station and an adjacent pier that was capable of docking the Navy's largest carriers.

Following Korea, the Seabees embarked on a new mission. From providing much needed assistance in the wake of the 1953 Ionian earthquake to providing construction work and training to underdeveloped countries, the Seabees became "The Navy's Goodwill Ambassadors". Seabees built or improved many roads, orphanages and public utilities in many remote parts of the world.

Antarctica[edit]

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.jpg
MCB 1 Sled train departing Little America for traverse to Byrd Station(646 miles) or the South Pole(850 miles). The Navy special ordered SD-LGP D8s (SD=stretched)[82] with the frames extended 4 feet and tracks 54 inches wide[82] resulting in a ground pressure of 4.30 psi and blades 18.5 feet wide. There were two types of sleds: 10 ton or 20 ton that could be hitched in mulitiples. U.S.Navy

In 1955, Seabees began deploying yearly to the continent of Antarctica. As participants in Operation Deep Freeze, their mission was to build and expand scientific bases located on the frozen continent. The first "wintering over" party included 200 Seabees who distinguished themselves by constructing a 6,000-foot (1,800 m) ice runway on McMurdo Sound. Despite a blizzard that undid the entire project, the airstrip was completed in time for the advance party of Deep Freeze II to become the first to fly into the South Pole by plane. MCB 1 was assigned for Deep Freeze II.

Over the following years and under adverse conditions, Seabees added to their list of accomplishments such things as snow-compacted roads, underground storage, laboratories, and living areas. One of the most notable achievements took place in 1962, when MCB 1 constructed Antarctica's first nuclear power plant,[83] which got them a Navy Unit Commendation. Another, in 1975, was the construction of the Buckminster Fuller Geodesic dome at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station by NMCB 71.[84] with a diameter of 164' x 52' high. This became a symbolic icon of the United States Antarctic Program until it was replaced.

During the Cold War, the Seabees undertook a number of other missions, including constructing the Distant Early Warning Line in the Arctic. Again operating often under extreme conditions, the Seabees successfully completed every mission assigned to them.

Vietnam War[edit]

Battalion drill for NMCB-1, 2006. U.S. Navy

Seabees were deployed to Vietnam throughout the conflict beginning in small numbers in June 1954 and extending to November 1972. By 1962, they began building camps for Special Forces. In June 1965, Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields, part of Seabee Team 1104, was actively engaged at the Battle of Dong Xoai and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions there. Shields remains the only Seabee ever to be awarded the Medal of Honor. These "Civic Action Teams" continued into the Vietnam War where Seabees, often fending off enemy forces alongside their Marine and Army counterparts, also built schools and infrastructure and provided health care service. Beginning in 1965, full Seabee battalions (NMCBs) and Naval Construction Regiments (NCRs), along with other unit types, were deployed throughout Vietnam. Seabees from the Naval Reserve provided individual personnel early on to augment regular units and two battalions, RNMCB- 12 and RNMCB- 22.

In Vietnam, the Seabees supported the Marines and built a staggering number of aircraft-support facilities, roads, and bridges; they also paved roads that provided access to farms and markets, supplied fresh water to countless numbers of Vietnamese through hundreds of Seabee-dug wells, provided medical treatment to thousands of villagers, and built schools, hospitals, utilities systems, roads and other community facilities. Seabees also worked with and taught construction skills to the Vietnamese people.

After Vietnam, the Seabees built and repaired Navy bases in Puerto Rico, Japan, Guam, Greece, Sicily, and Spain. Their civic action projects focused on the Trust Territories of the Pacific.

In 1971, the Seabees began their largest peacetime construction on Diego Garcia, a small atoll in the Indian Ocean. This project took 11 years and cost $200 million. The complex accommodates the Navy's largest ships and the biggest military cargo jets. This base proved invaluable when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990 and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm were launched.

From the Cold War to terrorism[edit]

NMCB 15 Seabee mans a vehicle-mounted machine gun while travelling through Al Hillah, Iraq in May 2003. U.S. Navy

As the Cold War died down, new challenges were presented by the increased incidence of terrorism. There were also ongoing support missions to Diego Garcia, Guam, Okinawa, Navy and Marine Bases in Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guantanamo Bay, Guatemala, the Naval Support Facility for Polaris and Poseidon Submarines in Holy Loch Scotland, Rota Spain, Naples Italy and Suda Bay Crete.

Seabee construction efforts led to the expansion and improvement of Naval Air Facility, Sigonella Sicily, turning this into a major base for the Navy's Sixth Fleet aviation activities.

There were combat roles as well. In 1983, a truck bomb demolished the barracks the Marines had secured in Beirut, Lebanon. After moving to the Beirut International Airport and setting up quarters there, Druse militia artillery began harassing the Marines. After consultations with the theater commander and Marine amphibious command and combat engineers, the forward deployed battalion, NMCB-1 in Rota Spain sent in a 70-man AirDet working party with heavy equipment. Construction of artillery-resistant quarters went on from December 1983 until the Marines' withdrawal in February 1984. Only one casualty occurred when an Equipment Operator using a bulldozer to clear fields of fire was wounded by an RPG attack. Seabee EO2 Kirt May received the first Purple Heart awarded to a Seabee since Vietnam.

Robert Stethem was murdered by the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah when they hijacked TWA Flight 847 in 1985. Stethem was a Steelworker Second Class (SW2), a Seabee diver and member of Underwater Construction Team ONE. The USS Stethem (DDG-63) is named in his honor. On 24 August 2010, onboard USS Stethem in Yokosuka, Japan, Stethem was posthumously made an honorary Master Chief Constructionman (CUCM) by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.

Persian Gulf War[edit]

During the Persian Gulf War, more than 5,000 Seabees (4,000 active and 1,000 reservists) served in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, Seabees built 10 camps for more than 42,000 personnel; 14 galleys capable of feeding 75,000 people; and 6 million ft² (600,000 m²) of aircraft parking apron and runways as well as 200+ Helo landing zones. They built and maintained two 500-bed Fleet Hospitals near the port city of Al-Jubayl.

Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror[edit]

Seabees continue to provide critical construction skills in connection with the effort to rebuild the infrastructure of Afghanistan. All active and reserve Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs) and Naval Construction Regiments (NCRs) have been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Seabees have been deployed since the beginning of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. One of their most high-profile tasks in Iraq has been the removal of statues of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. In Afghanistan, the Seabees' main task has been the construction of multiple forward operating bases for U.S. and coalition forces.

Since 2002, Seabees have provided critical and tactical construction skills in an effort to win the hearts and minds of locals in the Philippines. Their efforts have begun to deter the rising influence of radical terrorists in the southern Philippines, most notably the Abu Sayyaf's jungle training area. Seabees work along with Army, Marines, and Air Force under Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines.

Disaster relief and recovery[edit]

Seabees set up tents to house displaced victims of a devastating flood that hit Ethiopia. U.S. Navy
  • In 1969 when Hurricane Camille made landfall 20 miles west of Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, NMCB-121 was in homeport then and was called upon for cleanup, rescue, and community outreach for months to come. They fed displaced families and supported the community.
  • In 1990 NMCB 133 sent a 100-man Detachment to American Samoa to aid in the recovery of Cyclone Ofa.
  • 1994 Northridge earthquake, Seabees supported disaster recovery efforts for victims.
  • In summer 1992, Seabees were called on to provide recovery assistance for Homestead, Florida following Hurricane Andrew.
  • Seabees were also vital to the humanitarian efforts in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope from 1992 to 1993 sending 2 Battalions.[85]
  • In 1994, they were again called on to provide assistance to the Haitian Relief effort at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.
  • On Christmas Day 1995, Seabees arrived in Croatia to support the Army by building camps as part of Operation Joint Endeavor, the peacekeeping effort in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. NMCB 40 played a pivotal role serving with the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division "The Big Red One", in assisting with the dismantling of FOB's during the IFOR/SFOR phase.
  • On 23 September 1998, Hurricane Georges plowed through the Caribbean Islands causing millions of dollars in damage and generating thousands of DRT (disaster recovery team) man hours for the Seabees. The Navy provided generators and water trucks that were taken to nearby cities and damage assessment teams were sent to the local islands.
  • The Seabees immediately turned their focus towards Hurricane Mitch, which was the most powerful hurricane of the 1998 season. Mitch left more than 17,000 people dead due to the high winds and heavy rains, which led to mudflows that buried thousands in Central America. The Seabees deployed to Honduras, participating in operations with Joint Task Force Bravo, providing capabilities to conduct engineer reconnaissance, repair roads and bridges, clear debris, remove bridges, and build base camps. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Seven was the first Navy element to arrive in Central America, taking part in their second humanitarian mission on the deployment.
  • Seabees deployed in September 2004 in response to Hurricane Ivan's destruction to the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. The Seabees cleared hurricane debris, repaired roads, erected tents, and otherwise assisted fellow service members.
  • The Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, suffered damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Seabees were tasked to rebuild the base and the Gulf Coast of the United States.
  • Seabees of NMCB 7 deployed to provide construction support and disaster relief to Haiti following the earthquake in 2010. Seabee divers from Underwater Construction Team One along with ACB-2 and the Army Engineer divers made repairs to the heavily damaged port facilities in Port-au-Prince. This resulted in the re-opening of the port to allow humanitarian supplies into the country.
  • Seabees from NMCB-133 and Underwater Construction Team Two deployed to Japan as part of the relief effort after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
  • Seabees of NMCB 11 Air Detachment deployed for roughly two weeks to support federal, state, and local authorities in disaster recovery operations in the New Jersey and New York areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Air Detachment mounted out 90 personnel and 94 pieces of civil engineering support equipment including front-end loaders, backhoes, pumps, electric generators, storage containers, and other equipment which was convoyed to the disaster area.[86] 110 Seabees from NMCB 5 were also deployed to assist in disaster relief efforts, performing vital utilities work and clearing roads and debris throughout the Sandy Hook area.[87]

Organizational structure[edit]

Battalion[edit]

WWII Navy Construction Battalion Organization: Seabee Museum

The battalion is the fundamental unit of the Naval Construction Force (NCF). The current USMC model is three rifle companies, one weapons company, and a headquarters and service company in each infantry battalion.[88] A Seabee battalion has a headquarters company and four construction companies. Seabee battalions are designed as to be self-sufficient in the field. The designation for NCF battalions has changed with time.

  • 1942 to 1949: Naval Construction Battalion (NCB)
  • 1949 to 1964: Mobile Construction Battalion (MCB)
  • 1964 to present: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) — change was made to differentiate Seabee battalions from USMC bases (MCB)

From the early 1960s through 1991, reserve battalions were referred to as Reserve Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (RNMCB). After 1991, all reserve battalions were renamed to NMCB, signifying the integration of the reserve units with the active units of the NCF.

note: see WWII "Organization of the Marine infantry Regiment (NAVMC-1488) 27 March 1944[89]

note: a WWII USMC infantry battalion had: 35 officers, 877 men, 42 corpsman[89] - - a CB had: 32 officers, 1,073 men[90][91]

Regiment[edit]

As the number of battalions increased during WWII a higher command echelon was necessary to plan, coordinate, and assign the work. As a result, Naval Construction Regiments (NCR) were established in December 1942.[92] The USMC model has a headquarters company and normally three infantry battalions to a infantry regiment.[93]

note: see WWII "Organization of the Marine infantry Regiment (NAVMC-1488) 27 March 1944"[89]

note: 1945 CB Regiment[91]

Brigade[edit]

In April 1943, Naval Construction Brigades (NCB) were organized to coordinate the work of regiments.[92] Brigades were the highest NCF command echelon until early in the 21st Century. At that time, the last two brigades were the SECOND Naval Construction Brigade (2nd NCB) and the THIRD Naval Construction Brigade (3rd NCB). The 2nd NCB commanded Atlantic Fleet Seabee units and the 3rd NCB commanded Pacific Fleet Seabee units. Both brigades were decommissioned in August 2002 because the number of active battalions did not require or support that level of command and are no longer part of the NCF structure. As an example: during WWII the 6th Brigade on Tinian had 13 battalions.

note: 1945 CB Brigade[91]

Division[edit]

Shortly after the commencement of the Global War on Terror, it was realized that a single command interface for global Seabee operations would be required. On 9 August 2002, the FIRST Naval Construction Division (1 NCD) was stood-up and commissioned at NAB Little Creek in Virginia. Since January 2006, 1NCD was a subordinate unit of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC). The First Naval Construction Division (1NCD) was decommissioned 31 May 2013 because the size of the NCF did not support a Divisional level command structure. The 1NCD staff was integrated into NECC. Some 1NCD functions were transferred to the newly created Naval Construction Groups (NCGs) in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Port Hueneme, California, which are now the East and West Coast continuity for the NCF.[94]

note: see WWII "Table of Organization F-100-- Marine Division 4 May 1944"[95]

Specialty units[edit]

Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU)[edit]

When first organized during World War II, these units consisted of approximately one-fourth the personnel of an NCB and were intended to take over the maintenance of bases on which major construction had been completed. Today, CBMU's provide public works support at Naval Support Activities, Forward Operating Bases, and Fleet Hospital/Expeditionary Medical Facilities during wartime or contingency operations. They also provide disaster recovery support to Naval Regional Commanders in CONUS.

Underwater Construction Team (UCT)[edit]

UCT's deploy worldwide to conduct underwater construction, inspection, repair, and demolition operations of ocean facilities, to include repair of battle damage. They maintain a capability to support a Fleet Marine Force amphibious assault, subsequent combat service support ashore, and self-defense for their camp and facilities under construction.

Naval Construction Groups[edit]

In 2013, the Seabee Readiness Groups (SRG) were decommissioned and re-formed into Naval Construction Groups ONE and TWO. They are regimental-level command groups tasked with administrative and tactical control of Seabee Battalions, as well as conducting pre-deployment training of NCF units in the NCG's respective homeport locations. Currently, Naval Construction Group TWO (NCG-2) is based at CBC Gulfport, and Naval Construction Group ONE (NCG-ONE) is based at CBC Port Hueneme.

Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB)[edit]

ACB's (also abbreviated as PHIBCB) evolved out of pontoon assembly battalions formed as part of the Seabees during World War II. After the war, these battalions (originally MCBs 104 and 105) were renamed ACB's and assigned to Naval Beach Groups. Today, while the ACBs are part of the NCF, they do not report to NECC, instead reporting to surface TYCOMs. Additionally, the ACBs have a different personnel mix than an NMCB with half the enlisted personnel being traditional Seabee rates and the other half being fleet rates.

Seabee Engineering Reconnaissance Teams(SERT)[edit]

Seabee Engineer Reconnaissance Team (SERT) reach training mission destination to determine if an old bridge can be used for troop or convoy movements. U.S.Navy

Ten man teams developed during Operation Iraqi Freedom SERTs are divided into three elements: a liaison element, a security element and a reconnaissance element. The liaison (LNO) element has a CEC officer and two petty officers who are communications specialists. The LNO element is responsible for communications with higher echelons, both in transferring engineering assessments and intelligence and in receiving engineering reach-back solutions. The reconnaissance element has a CEC officer, who is the SERT Officer-in-Charge (OIC), a Builder or Steelworker chief petty officer who has some bridge construction experience, and petty officers of varying Seabee ratings. The OIC is normally a licensed professional engineer with a civil/structural engineering background. A SERT unit will include a corpsman or corpsman trained member with the rest of the team being selected from the best of their trades in their battalion. All are qualified Seabee Combat Warfare Specialists.

Obsolete units[edit]

NCF unit types that are no longer in use include:

  • Naval Construction Force Support Unit (NCFSU)
  • Construction Battalion Unit (CBU)
  • Construction Battalion Hospital Unit (CBHU)
  • Construction Battalion Detachments (CBD)
  • Pontoon Assembly Detachments (PAD)
  • Seabee Readiness Groups

Training[edit]

Seabees learning to use the M240

Recruits begin "A" School (preliminary training in a specific trade) fresh out of boot camp, or they come from the fleet after their service term is met, spending about 75% of the twelve weeks immersed in hands-on training. The remaining 25% is spent in classroom instruction. From "A" School, new Seabees most often report to an NMCB command for their first tour of duty. For training, the new Seabees attend a four-week course known as Expeditionary Combat Skills (ECS) at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Port Hueneme, California. ECS is also being taught to all personnel who report to a unit in the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command. ECS is a basic combat-skills course where the students spend time in a classroom environment learning map reading and land navigation, battlefield first aid, how to lay out defensive plans, how to conduct patrols, vehicle egress, and many other combat-related skills. Half of each course is spent at a shooting range where students learn basic rifle marksmanship and then qualify with the M16A2 and M16A3 service rifles. ECS students also learn fundamentals of the M9 service pistol and qualify. At the end of training, new Seabees are ready to perform with their new battalion. During their tenure with an NMCB, personnel may be assigned to a crew-served weapon, such as the MK 19 40 mm grenade launcher, the M2HB .50-caliber machine gun, or the M240 machine gun. Many reserve units still field variants of the M60 machine gun. Until 2012, Seabees wore the U.S. Woodland camouflage uniform or the legacy tri-color Desert Camouflage Uniform, the last members of the entire U.S. military to do so, but are now transitioning to the NWU Type III. Seabees use ALICE field gear as well as some units working with Marines use USMC issue Improved Load Bearing Equipment (ILBE) gear.[citation needed]

Seabees and Marines work together during a joint training exercise. U.S. Navy

About one-third of new Seabees are assigned to Public Works Departments (PWD) at naval installations both within the United States and overseas. While stationed at a Public Works Department, a Seabee has the opportunity to get specialized training and extensive experience in one or more facets of their rating.

Ratings[edit]

Indicate the construction trade that the Seabee is skilled in.

WWII[96][97]

  • BMB Boatswains Mate Seabee
  • CMCBB Carpenters Mate Construction Battalion Builder
  • CMCBD Carpenters Mate Construction Battalion Draftsman
  • CMCBE Carpenters Mate Construction Battalion Excavation foreman
  • CMCBS Carpenters Mate Construction Battalion Surveyor
  • EMCBC Electricians Mate Construction Battalion Communications
  • EMCBD Electricians Mate Construction Battalion Draftsman
  • EMCBG Electricians Mate Construction Battalion General
  • EMCBL Electricians Mate Construction Battalion Line and Station
  • GMCB Gunners Mate Construction Battalion
  • GMCBG Gunners Mate Construction Battalion Armorer
  • GMCBP Gunners Mate Construction Battalion Powder-man
  • MMCBE Machinists Mate Equipment Operator
  • SFCBB Ship Fitter Construction Battalion Blacksmith
  • SFCBM Ship Fitter Construction Battalion Draftsman
  • SFCBP Ship Fitter Construction Battalion Pipe-fitter and Plumber
  • SFCBR Ship Fitter Construction Battalion Rigger
  • SFCBS Ship Fitter Construction Battalion Steelworker
  • SFCBW Ship Fitter Construction Battalion Welder

Current[98][99]

The ranks of E-1 through E-3 Seabees use the designation "Constructionman" and wear sky-blue stripes on their dress and service uniforms.

Warfare Device[edit]

SCW insignia for officers and enlisted. U.S.Navy

The military qualification badge for the Seabees is known as the Seabee combat warfare specialist insignia (SCW). It is issued to both officers and enlisted personnel and recognizes those who have been fully trained and qualified as a member of the various Naval Construction Force (NCF) units. Only members attached to a qualifying NCF unit are eligible for the SCWs pin. The qualifying units include: Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCB), Amphibious Construction Battalions (ACB), Naval Construction Force Support Units (NCFSU), Underwater Construction Teams (UCT), and, since the end of 2008, Naval Construction Regiments (NCR).

The SCWs insignia has been in existence since it was officially approved for use in 1993

The Fleet Marine Forces pin: Officer, enlisted, and chaplain. USMC

Those Seabees that draw an assignment with the Fleet Marine Force can earn the Fleet Marine Force Insignia, also known as the Fleet Marine Force pin or FMF pin. the United States Navy has authorized these badges for U.S. Navy officers and sailors who are trained and qualified to perform duties in support of the United States Marine Corps. There are currently three classes of the Fleet Marine Force pin: enlisted, officer, and chaplain. For the requirements see: Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist (EFMFWS) Program per OPNAV Instruction 1414.4B.

Logo and unit insignias[edit]

Seabee Logo Pennants early 1942. First pattern CB. (drawn to be used as an identification stencil per BuDocks order not for uniforms)
Seabee logo DI badge of a Seabee with a sledge hammer and rifle across his back

On 1 March 1942 the Chief of BuDocks recommended that as a means to promote esprit de corps in the new branch of construction battalions, that an insignia be created for use on equipment similar to what air squadrons used on their aircraft. This was not something for the uniform.[100] Frank J. Iafrate, a civilian plan file clerk at Quonset Point Air National Guard Station, Rhode Island, was the artist who designed the original "Disney Style" Seabee in early 1942 with a large capital letter Q around the edge as border. This design was sent to Admiral Moreell who made a single request: that this reference to Quonset Point be changed to a hawser rope and it would be officially adopted.[101] That design remains in use to this day, predominantly unchanged. In late 1942, after designing the logo, Iafrate enlisted in the Seabees.[102] It should be noted that the Camp PXs sold pennants with a different Seabee design on them that was stylistically similar to the Mosquito boat rating patch.

The Seabees also had a second Logo that much less has been written about. It was that of a Shirtless construction worker holding a sledge hammer with a rifle strapped across his back standing upon the words Construmius Batuimus USN. The figure is typically on a shield with a blue field across the top and vertical red and white stripes. A small CEC logo is left of the figure and a small anchor is to the right. The Camp's PXs sold two versions of brass badges with this logo, enameled or non-enameled. Despite little being written about this logo it is incorporated into many CB Unit insignias (or variations of it). A partial list of these CBs would be: 9, 15, 17, 23, 29, 41, 45, 50, 68, 75, 77, 86, 87, 90, 93, 95, 99, 145 & 18th Special, CBUs 408, 504, 535 and the 7th Brigade.[103] Other units simply used it like 133 NCB did on the front cover of their unit history the "Rain Makers Log".[104]

During World War II, artists working for Walt Disney in the Insignia Department designed logos for about ten Naval Construction units, including the 60th NCB,[105] the 78th NCB[105] the 112th NCB[106] and the 133rd NCB[107] Good candidates, though unknown, are the logos of the 1st NCB,[108] 53rd NCB,[109] , 615th CBMU,[110] 30th Regiment[111] and the 6th Brigade[112] There are two Seabee logos in the book on WWII Disney insignia entitled "Disney Don's Dogtags" that are not identified with any unit.

A good spot to find Seabee Logos was on the sides of Tinian B 29s.[113][114][115]

The end of WWII brought the decommissioning of nearly every Seabee Battalion. The Construction Battalions had been in existence less than four years when this happened and the Navy had not created a Historical Branch or Archive for the NCF. So, there was no central record of the Seabees History or archive for the insignia of the individual units . As history passed, first with Korea and them Vietnam, Construction Battalions were reactivated with the units having no idea what the WWII insignia had been so they made new ones, NMCB One has had three. NMCB 8 is the exception. That Battalion has a insignia very similar to what it had during WWII.

Battalions[edit]

A CB Captain views a smokey field exercise while members of NMCB-14 execute an advance on enemy positions during a convoy training evolution. U. S. Navy

During World War II, there were more than 140 battalions commissioned.[116] Since then, battalions have been activated and deactivated as required by shifting national defense priorities. At present, there are six active-duty Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs) in the United States Navy, split between the Pacific Fleet ( at Port Hueneme, CA) and the Alantic Fleet ( at Gulfport, MS). The remaining Battalions are Navy Reserve Battalions:

Pacific Fleet (Port Hueneme, California)[edit]

  • NMCB 3 ("Better Than Best")
  • NMCB 4 ('"4" Does More), a.k.a. "Fab-4" while in Davisville
  • NMCB-5 ("The Professionals")

Coronado, California

  • ACB 1 Amphibious Construction Battalion ( "We put the sea in Seabees" ) CO Capt. Vinci

Atlantic Fleet (Gulfport, Mississippi)[edit]

  • NMCB-1 ("The First and The Finest"), a.k.a. unofficially as McBONE (pronounced "mick bone")
  • NMCB-11 ("Lucky Eleven")
  • NMCB-133 ("Kangroos" – "a" was intentionally left out – or "Runnin' Roos"), a.k.a. unofficially as "The Red Rats", because of the red Kangaroo in the Battalion emblem since 1966

Naval Reserve[edit]

Inactive battalions[edit]

  • NMCB-7 ("Magnificent Seven") (decommissioned)
  • NMCB-10 ("Men of Ten") (decommissioned 1976)
  • NMCB-15 ("Bat Out of Hell"): Located at Belton, Missouri. Personnel are from ten detachments in five states, (Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota). (decommissioned September 2013)
  • NMCB-16 : Located at Los Alamitos, California, and consisted of detachments in California, Arizona, and Nevada. (decommissioned September 94)
  • NMCB-17 ("Desert Battalion"): Located at Fort Carson, Colorado and consists of detachments in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Hawaii. (decommissioned 18 September 2014)
  • NMBC-21 ("The Blackjack Battalion"): Headquartered in Lakehurst, New Jersey and consists of detachments in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. (decommissioned 21 September 2013)
  • NMCB-23 ("The Blue and the Gray"): Headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. (decommissioned 30 September 2013)
  • NMCB-24 ("Dixie Doers") Located at Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama (decommissioned, 15 September 2013)
  • NMCB-26 ("Packs a Punch"): Was located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Mt. Clemens, Michigan and included detachments in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and central Illinois. (decommissionedSeptember 30, 2014)
  • NMCB-28 ("The Old Pros"): Located at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana and includes detachments in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. (decommissioned 2014)
  • NMCB-40 ("Fighting Forty") (decommissioned)
  • NMCB-62 ("The Minute Men"), a.k.a. unofficially as "Sixty Screw" (decommissioned)
  • NMCB-74 ("Fearless 74"), a.k.a. "Eager Beavers" in the 1980s (decommissioned 2014)

Support of Naval Special Warfare (SEAL Teams)[edit]

Seabees assigned to NSW GROUP 2, LOGSU2, CSSD train to erect a shelter. U.S. Navy

A small number of Seabees both men and women (exact numbers unknown) support Navy Special Warfare(NSW) units based out of Coronado, CA and Virginia Beach, VA. Seabees provide services such as power generation and distribution, logistical movements, repair of vehicles, construction and maintenance of small encampments, water purification and shower facilities in deployed locations.[117][118][119][120][121]

Seabees have a long history with NSW dating from World War Two to this day, some of the first members of The Naval Demolition Project and Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) were Seabees in training or graduated from Seabee training at Camp Peary in Williamsburg, VA.[121][122]

Seabees selected and assigned to support NSW are provided extra training in the areas of Casualty Care, Small Arms, Driving, Convoys and specialized equipment.[117][119]

The Seabees assigned to NSW are expected to qualify as Expeditionary Warfare Specialists with an emphasis on NSW (SEAL) history, SEAL community specific equipment and practices.[123][124]

If desired or required by the unit Seabees assigned to NSW are eligible to receive after meeting all established standards the following Naval Enlisted Classifications;

5306 – Naval Special Warfare (Combat Service Support) or 5307 – Naval Special Warfare (Combat Support).[125]

Seabees not only support regular SEAL Teams or units but also are eligible to tryout and get selected to support Naval Special Warfare Development Group.[126]

Museums[edit]

The Fighting Seabee Statue at Quonset Point where the Seabee Museum and Memorial Park is located
Fighting Seabee Statue at Naval Construction Battalion Center designed by Seabee Architect LJ Atkison in 1965. Originally designed for a Mardi Gras parade, it was retired to a statue in 1966. Gulfport, Mississippi U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy Seabee Museum is located at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, California near the entrance, but outside the main gate. Due to the location, visitors are able to visit the museum without having to enter the base proper. The museum re-opened on 22 July 2011 in a new building built by Carlsbad-based RQ Construction. The design of the single-story, 38,833 square foot structure was inspired by the Seabee Quonset hut. Inside are galleries for exhibition space, a grand hall, a theater for 45 people, collections storage, and research areas.

On 7 February 2011, the museum was certified as LEED Silver for utilizing a number of sustainable design and construction strategies. Features include the use of low-maintenance landscaping; a "cool" roofing system with high solar reflectance and thermal emittance; use of photocell-controlled light fixtures and energy-efficient lighting fixtures; 30% use of regional materials and 80% construction debris was recycled and diverted from landfills; low-volatility organic compounds (VOCs); and, use of dual-flush toilets and low-flow aerator faucets.

The Seabee Heritage Center is located in Building 446 at the Naval Construction Battalion Center. The Heritage Center is the Atlantic Coast Annex of the Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme.[127] Opened in 1995, the Museum Annex commemorates the history and achievements of the Atlantic Coast Naval Construction Force (Seabees) and the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps.[128] Exhibits at the Gulfport Annex are provided by the Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme.[129]

The Seabee Museum and Memorial Park[130] in Davisville, Rhode Island was opened in the late 1990s by a group of former Seabees. The Fighting Seabee Statue is located here.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The 1944 war film The Fighting Seabees, starring John Wayne, tells a heavily fictionalized story of the formation of the Seabees and their first taste of combat.
  • South Pacific features a group of Seabees.
  • Ward Cleaver from the television show Leave It to Beaver was a Navy Seabee.
  • Seabees were featured in the 1968 war film The Green Berets.
  • Ben Walton from the television show The Waltons was a Navy Seabee.
  • Al Borland from the television show Home Improvement was a Navy Seabee.
  • The CBS crime investigation series NCIS season 12 episode "We Build, We Fight" centered around the murder of an openly gay Seabee who had been nominated for the Medal of Honor. The NCIS spin-off NCIS: New Orleans second-season episode "I Do" featured a unit of Seabees as being suspects in the murder of a US Navy drone pilot just outside the hotel that one of the members of the unit was marrying a woman.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Building the Navy's Bases in World War II Chapter VI
  2. ^ Building the Navy"s Bases In World War II chapter XXIV
  3. ^ Formation 2015.
  4. ^ Admiral Moreell, Seebee Museum, Quonset Point, Rhode Island
  5. ^ 1945 Seabee Documentary
  6. ^ a b Naval History Blog
  7. ^ Flying Magazine October 1944p. 261
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Introduction 2017.
  9. ^ a b Office of Naval Operations: Base Maintienance Divisionj Op30 (Op 415)[1]
  10. ^ a b c Seabee Unit Histories
  11. ^ a b c d e Formation 2017.
  12. ^ web.mst.edu/~rogersda/umrcourses/ge342/SeaBees-Revised.pdf were dubious of the concept. Seabees were the highest paid group in the military and fought in every theatre of WWII.[2]
  13. ^ a b Building the Navy's Bases in WWII, Dept. of the Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks, Washington DC, Government Printing Office 1947 [3]
  14. ^ Building the Navy's Bases in World War II Vol II, Dept of the Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks 1947 U.S. GFovernment Printing Office, Washington D.C. [4]
  15. ^ a b c Office of Naval Operations: Base Maintenance Division Op30 (Op415)
  16. ^ History of the Bureau of Yard and Docks and the nCivil Engineer Corps, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1947 p.120[5]
  17. ^ Building the Navy's Bases in World War II Vol. 1, U.S. Printing Office, Washington D.C. 1947, p.120[6]
  18. ^ Oak and Acorn training bases, Seabee Online Magazine Open for Business section [7]
  19. ^ World War II,Pacific Island Guide,Gordon L. Rottman, Greenwood Press, 88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881. p. 78 [8]
  20. ^ Buliding the Navy's Bases
  21. ^ Building the Navy's Bases, Chapter V
  22. ^ U.S.Navy Seabees During World War II, J. David Rogers, p. 67
  23. ^ 93rd Seabee
  24. ^ Tarawa blog
  25. ^ Building the Navy's Bases in World War II Vol. 1, U.S. Printing Office, Washington D.C. 1947, p.130id=zaEWw_itW80C&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=advance+bases++WWII+lions+cubs&source=bl&ots=1JAFSFsv05&sig=Xs8KpLoJ5sPDvaj5zg6aMWhh1Y8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiKjYq1qKLTAhWG4IMKHVGXD0UQ6AEIWDAN#v=onepage&q=advance%20bases%20%20WWII%20lions%20cubs&f=false
  26. ^ Post WWII Seabees
  27. ^ "The Sting of the Bee: 75 Years of the Navy Seabee". All Hands Magazine. Retrieved 15 March 2017. 
  28. ^ Building the Navy's Bases Chapter XXV
  29. ^ Naval Personnel Command, 5301-5319 Awards. 5319 #2
  30. ^ Can-Do, Willam Bradford Huie, E.P. Dutton, New York, 1945 (U.S. Navy's CB Historian)
  31. ^ WWII CB uniform
  32. ^ WWII CB uniform, 1944 Leatherneck Magazine
  33. ^ World Waar II Seabees smug umg
  34. ^ Uniforms of WWII SeabeeUSMC
  35. ^ World War Stories, 121st Seabees
  36. ^ a b Seabees with the Marines, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA 93043 [9]
  37. ^ U.S. Naval Institute & Naval Institute Foundation,291 Wood Rd, Annapolis, MD 21402 [10] paragraph 13
  38. ^ a b U.S. Naval Institute & Naval Institute Foundation,291 Wood Rd, Annapolis, MD 21402 [11] paragraph 39
  39. ^ Building the Navy's Bases in World War II, Dept. of the Navy Historical Center, 805 Kidder Breeze SE., Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC 20374, Chapter VI p. 138[12]
  40. ^ a b c d Rottman, Gordon L. (2002). US Marine Corps World War II order of battle : ground and air units in the Pacific War, 1939–1945, p. 218 (1 ed.). Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 218–220. ISBN 9780313319068. 
  41. ^ Battle Orders – US Marine Corps Pacific Theater of Operations 1943–44, Gordon L Rottman, Osprey Publishing, p. 13 [13]
  42. ^ 19th Seabees
  43. ^ A brief history of the 18th NCB
  44. ^ 121st Veteran site
  45. ^ From Omaha to Okinawa: The Story of the Seabees, Willam Bradford Huie, E.P. Dutton, New York 1945)
  46. ^ Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA, 93043
  47. ^ WWII Stories
  48. ^ Peleliu Shore Party group
  49. ^ Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA. 93043. 17th Special; NCB p. 29[14]
  50. ^ World War II Database World War II Database
  51. ^ 16th Field Depot
  52. ^ 17th Special ,Seabee Museum
  53. ^ Perlieu Shore Party Group
  54. ^ Marines in World War II, Major Charles D. Melson, Marine Historical Division, Bldg 58 Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC, 1993, Fighting 9th Chapter [15]
  55. ^ 71st U.S Naval Construction Battalion, Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA p. 14 [16]
  56. ^ Seabees! WWII Forms #10
  57. ^ Seabee Battalion List
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Further reading[edit]

  • Huie, William Bradford (1997). Can Do!: The Story of the Seabees (Bluejacket Books Series). Naval Institute Press.
  • Huie, William Bradford(2012). From Omaha to Okinawa – The Story of the Seabee (Bluejacket Book Series). Naval Institute Press.
  • RADM Charles R. Kubic & James P. Rife (2009). Bridges to Baghdad: The US Navy Seabees in the Iraq War.
  • Nichols, Gina (2007). The Seabees at Gulfport. Arcadia Publishing.
  • Office of Naval Operations OP-30-(OP-415), "Advance Base Units -- Lions,Cubs, Acorns"[30]
  • Alan Gropman "The Big 'L' ": American Logistics in World War II" p. 224[31] (Lions, Cubs, Oaks, Acorns)
  • ACORN35, ACORN39, CASU44 US Navy War Diaries [32]
  • NAVDOCKS-100, January 1944, U.S.Naval Construction Battalion Administration Manual [33]

External links[edit]