|Naval Construction Battalions|
The Seabee logo
|Active||5 March 1942 – present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
United States Naval Construction Battalions - better known as Seabees, a heterograph of the first initials - "C.B.", comprise US Naval Construction Forces (NCF).
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 executed. 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. 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 the 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. Seabees believe that anything they are tasked with they "Can Do" (the CB motto). They were unique at conception and remain so today. In 2017, the Seabees celebrated 75 years of service and have not changed from Admiral Ben Moreell's conceptual model.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Formation
- 1.2 World War II service
- 1.3 Korean War
- 1.4 Antarctica
- 1.5 Vietnam War
- 1.6 From the Cold War to terrorism
- 1.7 Persian Gulf War
- 1.8 Iraq, Afghanistan, and the War on Terror
- 1.9 Disaster relief and recovery
- 2 Organization
- 2.1 Unit nomenclature
- 2.2 Training
- 2.3 Ratings
- 2.4 Warfare Device
- 3 Logo
- 4 Battalions
- 5 Support of Naval Special Warfare (SEAL Teams)
- 6 Museums
- 7 Notable Seabees
- 8 In popular culture
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
War of 1812
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.
World War I
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Between the World Wars
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.
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.
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.
By summer of 1941, with large naval bases under construction at Guam, Midway, Wake, Pearl Harbor, Iceland, Newfoundland, Bermuda, and many other places, BuDocks organized the Headquarters Construction Companies. The men in these companies would report to the Officers in Charge of Construction and be utilized as draftsmen and engineering aids and for administrative duties as inspectors and supervisors to oversee the work of the civilian construction contractors. 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 establishment of the first Headquarters Construction Company, on 31 October 1941. Recruitment started in November and by the beginning of December the company was formed with the men undergoing boot training at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. By 16 December 1941, four additional companies had been authorized, but by then, events had outstripped planning and these recruits would be used for loftier purposes.
World War II
In December 1941, with US involvement in war soon expected on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of BuDocks, recommended establishing Navy construction units. On 28 December 1941, he requested authority to carry this out. On 5 January 1942, he was granted authority from the Navy's Bureau of Navigation to recruit men from the construction trades for assignment to a Naval Construction Regiment which would be composed of three Naval Construction Batallions.
A major problem confronting BuDocks was who would command the Construction Battalions. Navy regulation stated that military command of naval personnel was limited to only line officers, yet BuDocks deemed it essential that these newly established 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.
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.
World War II service
The first men in the Seabees were not raw recruits, they were recruited by their experience and skills. To find the men with the necessary qualification, 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 early days of the war, however, after December 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that men for the Construction Battalions had to be obtained through the Selective Service System. After that, Seabees were on average much younger and came in with only rudimentary skills.
The first recruits came from men who 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. 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.
Recruits would receive three weeks of training at Camp Allen, later Camp Peary, in Norfolk, Virginia. The first battalions would then be immediately sent overseas because of the urgent need for naval construction. Later, the newly formed battalions would be sent to either Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center, Davisville, Rhode Island, or Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme, Port Hueneme, California. The Davisville Advanced Base Depot became operational in June 1942, and on 11 August 1942, the Naval Construction Training Center, known as Camp Endicott, was commissioned. The Camp trained over 100,000 Seabees during World War II. Camp Thomas, a personnel-receiving station on the base, was established in October of that year. Port Hueneme became operational in May 1942. This base was responsible for staging about 175,000 Seabees directly to the efforts in the Pacific.
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. But, going back to the 1st Naval Construction Battalion (aka Bobcats), The Marines redesignated them the 3rd Battalion 22nd Marines. They were the very first Seabees and that was only the beginning. The Bureau of Yards and Docks original request of 28 December 1941 was for the authorization of 3 Construction Battalions. And, it is written that early in the war 3 CB Battalions were attached to Marine Divisions as Combat Engineers. The Bobcats redesignation seems to indicate that those three Battalions are one and the same with the 2nd and 3rd NCBs being the other Battalions. It is also written the Marines wanted CB Battalions for each Division in the Pacific but were told no because of war priorities. 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. enroute to Guadacanal. The 33rd NCB was posted to the 1st Marine Division for the assault on Palau. The 47th sent a detachment to Enogi Island assigned to the 1st and 4th Marine Raiders. In 1943 things changed with a CB being assigned to five of the six Marine Divisions. Those Battalions were posted to composite Engineer Regiments and redesignated as the 3rd Battalion in their Regiment. (see 16th Marine Regiment, 17th Marine Regiment, 18th Marine Regiment, 19th Marine Regiment, and 20th Marine Regiment) That lasted until about the time of the planning for Iwo Jima when those Engineer Regiments were deactivated. 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 a few Marines too). Even with the Engineer Regiments deactivated each Marine Division still had a CB Battalion posted TAD. 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) The 53rd NCB was also posted to I MAC as a component of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade.. The 6th Naval Construction Brigade used VAC's insignia as a part of the Brigade's so it is fairly safe to assume they were posted to V Amphibious Corps as well.(the 6th Brigade was composed of : the 29th Construction Rgt. with CBs; 18, 27 Special, 92 ,& 107, the 30th Construction Rgt. with CBs: 13, 67, 121,& 123, and the 49th Construction Rgt. with CBs: 9, 38, 110, & 112. ). 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. 133 was posted to the 23rd Marines as their Shore Party. 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) All of this glosses over the 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. When all is said and done no one holds the Marine Corps in higher regard than the Seabees as many of them thought the Seabees should have been a USMC component. On the other hand, the record shows that if the Marine Corps had had it's way that probably would have happened.
More than 325,000 men served with the Seabees in World War II, fighting and building on six continents and more than 300 islands. In the Pacific, where most of the construction work was needed, the Seabees landed soon after the Marines had secured the beachhead. 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. They often operated under fire and frequently were forced to take part in the fighting to defend themselves and their construction projects.
The Seabees were officially organized in the Naval Reserve on December 31, 1947. With the general demobilization following the war, the Naval Construction Battalions (NCBs) were reduced to 3,300 men on active duty by 1950. 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.
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 October 2, 1951; followed by MCB-5 on November 5, 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 July 25, 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.
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 arrive at the South Pole by plane.
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 the Navy's builders constructed Antarctica's first nuclear power plant, at McMurdo Station. Another, in 1975, was the construction of the Buckminster Fuller Geodesic dome at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station with a diameter of 164' x 52' high.
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.
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.
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
As the Cold War cooled off, 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 August 24, 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
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
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
In 1969 when Hurricane Camille hit the gulf coast, the MCB-121 battalion stationed at Gulfport were called upon for cleanup, rescue, and community outreach for months to come. They fed displaced families and supported the community.
Seabees supported disaster recovery efforts for victims of the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
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. 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 September 23, 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.
Shortly after Hurricane Georges ravaged Puerto Rico and most of the Caribbean, 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.
Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Seven 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 of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Eleven 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.
The battalion is the fundamental unit of the Naval Construction Force (NCF). Seabee battalions are constituted in such a way as to be self-sustaining in the field. The nomenclature for NCF battalions has evolved over the years.
- 1942 to 1949: Naval Construction Battalion (NCB)
- 1949 to 1964: Mobile Construction Battalion (MCB)
- 1964 to present: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) — change designated 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.
During the rapid build-up of the Seabees during World War II, the number of battalions in a given area increased and larger construction programs were undertaken. This necessitated a higher command echelon to plan, coordinate, and assign the work of several battalions in one area. As a result, Naval Construction Regiments (NCR) were established in December 1942.
In April 1943, Naval Construction Brigades (NCB) were organized to coordinate the work of regiments. 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 and are no longer part of the NCF structure.
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 August 9, 2002, the FIRST Naval Construction Division (1 NCD) was stood-up and commissioned at NAB Little Creek in Virginia. Since January 2006, 1NCD has been a subordinate unit of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC). First Naval Construction Division (1NCD) was decommissioned May 31, 2013. The 1NCD staff will be integrated into NECC. Some 1NCD functions have been 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.
Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU)
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)
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.
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)
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 1 NCD, 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.
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 Detachments (CBD)
- Pontoon Assembly Detachments (PAD)
- Seabee Readiness Groups
The newcomers begin "A" School (preliminary training) 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.
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.
Indicate the construction trade that the Seabee is skilled in.
- 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
- CM Construction Mechanic
- EO Equipment Operator
- UT Utilitiesman
- CE Construction Electrician
- BU Builder
- SW Steelworker
- EA Engineering Aide
The ranks of E-1 through E-3 Seabees use the designation "Constructionman" and wear sky-blue stripes on their dress and service uniforms.
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.
Frank J. Iafrate, a civilian plan file clerk at Quonset Point Air National Guard Station, Rhode Island, was the artist who designed the original Seabee logo ("Fighting 'Bee") in early 1942. Although the original design had a large capital letter Q around the edge to note Quonset Point, a request was made By Admiral Moreell to change the Q to a hawser rope, which was done before being officially adopted. The logo has remained in use to this day, predominantly unchanged. In late 1942, after designing the logo, he enlisted in the Seabees.
During World War II, artists working for Walt Disney designed logos for about ten Naval Construction units, including the 53rd Naval Construction Battalion, the 60th Naval (Canal) Construction Battalion, the 78th Naval Construction Battalionthe 112th NCB and the Naval Construction Battalion 133 Good candidates, though unknown, are the logos of the 110th NCB, 615th CBMU and the 6th Naval Construction Brigade
During World War II, there were more than 140 battalions commissioned. In the years between then and the present, 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) — known as Seabees — in the United States Navy, split between the east and west coasts. The remaining battalions are Navy Reserve battalions:
West Coast (Port Hueneme, California)
- NMCB 3 ("Better Than Best")
- NMCB 4 ('"4" Does More), a.k.a. "Fab-4" while in Davisville
- NMCB-5 ("The Professionals")
- ACB 1 Amphibious Construction Battalion ( "We put the sea in Seabees" ) CO Capt. Vinci
East Coast (Gulfport, Mississippi)
- 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
- NMCB-14 ("Southern Pride"): Located at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida and consists of detachments in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
- NMCB-18 ("Skookum Mamook"): Headquartered at Naval Base Ventura County, California and consists of detachments in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and Utah.
- NMCB-22 ("Lone Star"): Headquartered in Port Hueneme, California. The battalion has detachments throughout Texas and one in Oklahoma.
- NMCB-25 ("Spades and Clubs"): Located at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin and consists of Seabee detachments from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, North Dakota, Iowa, and Michigan.
- NMCB-27 ("Skibees"): Cold Weather Battalion, located at Westover Air Reserve Base, Chicopee, Massachusetts and includes detachments in six New England States and upstate New York.
- 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 September 18, 2014)
- NMBC-21 ("The Blackjack Battalion"): Headquartered in Lakehurst, New Jersey and consists of detachments in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. (decommissioned September 21, 2013)
- NMCB-23 ("The Blue and the Gray"): Headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. (decommissioned September 30, 2013)
- NMCB-24 ("Dixie Doers") Located at Red Stone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama (decommissioned, September 15, 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)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 July 22, 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 February 7, 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 (Gulfport, Mississippi). The Heritage Center is the Atlantic Coast Annex of the Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme. 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. Exhibits at the Gulfport Annex are provided by the Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme.
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- Bruce Goff
- Frank J. Iafrate (original designer of the SeaBee logo, and later also a SeaBee) 
- Elmore Leonard
- William Levitt
- Ben Moreell 
- Marvin G. Shields, Medal of Honor, Vietnam War
- Robert Stethem
- Jack B. Feagins, Marvin Shields Award, Silver Star, Vietnam War
In popular culture
- 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.
- The 1998 videogame, Grim Fandango, set in the Mexican Land of the Dead, has ship workers who are anthropomorphized bees.
- 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.
- Combat engineer
- Military engineering
- Military engineering of the United States
- United States Air Force Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE)
- United States Air Force Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force (Prime BEEF)
- United States Army Corps of Engineers
- Formation 2015.
- Admiral Moreell, Seebee Museum, Quonset Point, Rhode Island
- Introduction 2017.
- Formation 2017.
- Can-Do, Willam Bradford Huie, E.P. Dutton, New York, 1945 (U.S. Navy's CB Historian)
- U.S. Naval Institute & Naval Institute Foundation,291 Wood Rd, Annapolis, MD 21402  paragraph 13
- Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA, 93043
- 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.
- Battle Orders - US Marine Corps Pacific Theater of Operations 1943-44, Gordon L Rottman, Osprey Publishing, p. 13 
- 121st Veteran site
- 71st U.S Naval Construction Battalion, Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA p. 14
- Seabee Battalion List
- 53rd Naval Construction Battalion, Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA 93043. p.106
- Seabee Museum, Port Hueneme, Ca. 93043 
- Sixth Brigade Log, Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA 93043. 
- Uncle Annex 5th Marine Divisions Operations Report, April 1945, National Archives, College Park, MD
- 4th Marine Division Operations Report, Iwo Jima, 19 February - 16 March 1945. open pdf -Part_6 and pdf -Part_7 for Appendix 1 Annex Dog ( Shore Party LOG D-day - D-plus 18) 
- "The Sting of the Bee: 75 Years of the Navy Seabee". All Hands Magazine. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
- Between 2015.
- McAvoy, Audrey (2012-11-20). "Seabees Complete Disaster Recovery Mission". Military.com. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
- Bureau of Yards and Docks (1947), Building the Navy's Bases in World War II, Volume 1, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, pp. 136–137
- Daryl C. Smith, Naval Station Norfolk Public Affairs. "First Naval Construction Division Decommissioned". Navy.mil. Retrieved 2015-12-19.
- Manual of Navy Enlisted Manpower and Personnel Classifications and Occupational Standards (PDF), Volume I, Navy Enlisted Classifications (NECs), U.S. Department of the Navy, January 2012, p. 1611
- "Origin of the SeaBee logo".
- "The Fighting Bee".
- Navy Seabee Museum, Port Hueneme, CA 93043
- Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA 93043
- Rainmakers Log, Commander R.P. Murphy, Leo Hart Co. Rochester, N.Y. 1945, p. 6 
- Seabee Museum Archives, Port Hueneme, CA.93043
- Affairs, This story was written by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Katt Whittenberger, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public. "Seabee Recognized for Supporting Naval Special Warfare". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
- "All Hands Magazine Page 41 SEAL Support" (PDF).
- "Ethos Issue 16 Building Camp NSW Page 25" (PDF).
- Whittenberger, MC1(SW/AW) Katt. "Seabees honored for service in support of SpecWar missions". Retrieved 2016-09-01.
- "ETHOS ISSUE 15 Various Stories" (PDF).
- "SEAL History: Origins of Naval Special Warfare-WWII | National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum". 2013-03-09. Retrieved 2016-08-31.
- "Article on Page 5 of Ethos titled We salute you Naval Special Warfare technician" (PDF).
- Affairs, This story was written by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Margie Rodriguez, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public. "Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Kicks Off Expeditionary Warfare Specialist Program". Retrieved 2016-08-31.
- "Navy Enlisted Classifications Chapter 4" (PDF).
- "RECRUITMENT/ASSIGNMENT TO COMMANDER, NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE DEVELOPMENT GROUP (COMNAVSPECWARDEVGRU)" (PDF).
- U.S. Navy Seabee Museum: Official website Retrieved 10 January 2012
- A Guide to the U.S. Navy Museum Facilities in the United States Retrieved 10 January 2012
- Seabee Historical Foundation Retrieved 10 January 2012
- Seabee Museum and Memorial Park
- https://navy.togetherweserved.com/usn/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=Person&ID=611764 Together We Served entry on Frank Iafrate, original designer of the Seabee logo, Retrieved 1 February 2017
- [Seabee Archives, Port Hueneme ,CA 93043 
- "Seabee History: Introduction". 17 February 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
- "Seabee History: Formation of the Seabees and World War II". 1 July 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
- "Seabee History: Between the Second World War and the Korean War". 1 July 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to United States Navy Seabees.|
- Seabee Pride
- Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCB) (at www.seabee.navy.mil)
- Navy.mil profile
- Seabee History from the Naval History and Heritage Command
- Seabee & CEC Historical Foundation
- Seabee Museum & Memorial Park in Davisville, Rhode Island
- Seabees During World War II
- Seabee Training at Navy.com
- Seabee Online: Official Online Magazine of the Seabees
- US Navy Seabee Yahoo Group
- the Marston mat and Seabee
- Oral history interview with Benjamin Walker, a Seabee during World War II from the Veterans History Project at Central Connecticut State University
- Oral history interview with Bruce Remillard, a Seabee during the Vietnam War from the Veterans History Project at Central Connecticut State University