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, form the Naval Construction Force of the United States Navy. Their nickname is a heterograph of the first initials "C.B." from the words Construction Battalion.[1][2] The depending upon the use of the word, "Seabee" can refer to one of three things: All the enlisted personnel in the USN's occupational field-7 (OF-7), All officers and enlisted assigned to the Naval Construction Force, or the US Naval Construction Battalions.

WWII Naval Officers assigned to a CB from the Civil Engineer Corps, Medical Corps, Dental Corps and Supply Corps had a silver Seabee on their Corps' insignia.

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 was that of 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]

World War I precursor[edit]

In 1917, the Twelfth Regiment (Public Works)[8] was organized at Naval Training Station Great Lakes.[9] 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.[9] 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.[9] 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,[9] 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;[9] 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.[9] 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,[9] 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.[9]

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 Officer, to represent BuDocks on the War Plans Board. Captain Allen presented the bureau's concept of "Naval Construction Battalions" to the Board,[10] the concept was later adopted for inclusion in the Rainbow war plans.[9] 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 Corps 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.[9] 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.[9]

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[11] 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).[9] 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,[12] it was 6 NCB that was the first Battalion to deploy as a unit to the same place.[12]

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 Corps, 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.[13] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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,[1]:136 this lasted until October 1943 when voluntary enlistment in the Seabees ceased until December 1944.[1]:136 During this period the recruits were generally younger and had much less developed skill sets due to their age.[13] 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.[13]

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.[13] 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[15] as laid out by the Office of Naval Operations,[16] these bases were code-named: i.e. BOBCAT (this was the small first Advance Base Operation at Bora Bora), and then came LIONs, CUBs,[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 and ACORN were the names given repurposed enemy air bases captured in an amphibious assault.[16][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] Acorn 17 was on Tarawa.[24] and Acorn 23 was on Kwajalein[25] When these plans were drawn up it was thought that two CBs would be what was needed to construct a Lion installation,[16] 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. Nouméa, 2. Pearl Harbor, 3. Brisbane, 4. Milne Bay, 5. Samar, 6. Subic Bay, and 7.Okinawa).[26] By the end of 1943 the Seabees had constructed over 300 different advanced bases on as many islands.[27] 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.[28][29]

53rd Naval Construction Battalion sign.(Seabee Museum)
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 badge worn instead of the USMC globe and anchor on the USMC issue garrison cap

USMC historian Gordon L. Rottman wrote "that one of the biggest contributions the Navy made to the Marine Corps during WWII was the creation of the Seabees";[31] in turn, the Corps would be influential upon the CB organization and its history. In 1942 The Marines issued USMC dufflebags and uniforms to Battalions 17-20,[32][33][34] In the records of both the 18th and 19th NCBs they each claim to have been the first CB authorized to wear the USMC uniform, they both received their military training and USMC issue at Marine Training Center, New River, N.C. (Camp Lejeune).[35] How many other Battalions received the USMC issue is not recorded but it is known that the 25th, 31st, 43rd,[36] 76th,[37] 121st and 133rd NCBs did also,[38] the Marine Corps listed CBs on their Table of organization: "D-Series Division" for 1942,[39] "E-Series Division" for 1943,[40] [41]and "Amphibious Corps" for 1944/45[42] But, going back to the 1st Naval Construction Detachment (a.k.a. Bobcats),[11] The Marines redesignated them the 3rd Battalion 22nd Marines,[43] 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,[12] the Bureau of Yards and Docks original request of 28 December 1941 was for the authorization of three Construction Battalions.[6]:Paragraph 13 When those three Battalions were formed the Seabees did not have a fully functional base of their own. So, upon leaving Navy boot camp, 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,[1]:138 it is also written the Marines wanted a Seabee Battalion for each Division in the Pacific, but were told no because of war priorities.[6]:Paragraph 39 However, by autumn 1942, things changed with a NCBs 18, 19 and 25[44] being assigned to Marine Divisions as combat engineers,[45] those Battalions were posted to composite Engineer Regiments[46] and redesignated as the 3rd Battalion in their Regiment.[45] (see 16th Marine Regiment, 17th Marine Regiment,[47] 18th Marine Regiment,[48] 19th Marine Regiment, and 20th Marine Regiment[38]) In August 1942 C Company 18th NCB was transferred to the C.B. Replacement Group, Fleet Marine Force, San Diego, the rest of the 18th embarked from the Fleet Marine Force Base Depot, Norfolk, VA, en route to Guadalcanal where they would replace the 6th NCB with the 1st Marine Division.[49] In November the 14th NCB landed with the 2nd Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal, the 33rd had 202 men posted to the 1st Pioneers as shore party for the 1st Marine Division on Peleliu[50] as was the entire 17th Special NCB (segregated).[50][51][52][53][54] [55]

The 47th sent a detachment to Enogi Island assigned to the 1st and 4th Marine Raiders,[43] the 121st was sent to the NCB Training Center at MTC Camp Lejuene, New River, NC where it was attached to the 4th Marine Division when it formed and then assigned to the 20th Marines.[56] Two months earlier the 24th NCB supported the landing of the 9th Marine Defense Battalion on Rendova;[57] 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.[12] 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).[58] The 75th had a 100-man detachment volunteer to land with a Company of 1st Marines at Torokino Point Bougainville.[59] Even with the Engineer Regiments inactivated Marine Divisions still had a CB Battalion posted to them, for Iwo Jima the 133rd and 31st NCBs were TAD to the 4th an 5th 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)[49] 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.[59][60] For Guam, the III Amphibious Corps had the 2nd Special NCB and 25th NCB. V Amphibious Corps (VAC) had the 23rd Special and 62nd NCBs on Iwo Jima, the 6th Naval Construction Brigade incorporated VAC's insignia as a part of the Brigade's indicating they were also posted to V Amphibious Corps.[61] (the 6th Brigade was composed of: the 29th Rgt. with CBs; 18,[45] 50, 92, 107, & 135, the 30th Rgt. with CBs: 13, 67, 121,[45]& 123, and the 49th Rgt. with CBs: 9, 38, 110, & 112th (and the 27th Special),[62][63] but, stepping back again to Iwo Jima, there the 31st and 133rd were not re-designated. The Marines were short of 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 on D-day, the 31st NCB's Demolitions Section was under divisional control through D+10 with the 5th Marine Division.[64] The 133rd was posted to the 23rd Marines as their Shore Party,[65] the Battalion had each a Company detached and tasked 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). With Iwo Jima secured the 5th Marine Division returned to Camp Tarawa where it was joined by the 116th NCB; in August Japan fell and 116th NCB went with the 5th Marine Division as part of the occupation force. V-J day found thousands of Japanese troops still in China and the Third Marine Amphibious Corps was sent there to get them back to Japan. A portion of the 33rd Naval Construction Regiment was assigned to III Corps for this mission: the 83rd, 96th, 122nd CBs and the 33rd Special CB,[66][67] with the war over the Seabees ended up with the most unique standing any U.S. military component has with the U.S. Marine Corps.[68] Seabee historian William Bradford Huie wrote "that the two have a camaraderie unknown else-wheres in the United States military",[69] 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, gator with three stars, and a divisional crest.

  • Historical note: 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 sergeant's do not pull guard duty so the ranked Seabees would not be assigned, the NCOs of the 18th wore USMC chevrons and not USN "crows" on their uniforms.[70]
  • Historical note: The 23rd Marine Regiment had Seabees as Shore Party three times: Roi-Namur, Saipan, and Iwo Jima. Seabees were Shore Party for the Marines on Bougainville,[58] Peleliu,[50] Guam,[71] Purata Island,[59] Roi-Namur, Saipan,[72] Iwo Jima,[65] and Okinawa,[73] the Marines deployed them as combat engineers at Cape Gloucester,[74] Tarawa,[24] and Tinian.[75]
  • 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.[76]
  • Historical note: The first Marines assigned to a CB were 50 men attached to CBD 1010 on Guam.[77].
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,[78] 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.[79]

Naval Combat Demolition Units:[80] NCDUs – Underwater Demolition Teams: UDTs

U.S. Naval Combat Demolition insignia (U.S. Navy Seal Museum)
Seabee welcome sign for the U.S. Marine Corps on Guam (U.S. Navy)
NCDU 45, CEC Ensign Karnowski, Chief Carpenters Mate Conrad C. Millis, MM2 Equipment Operator Lester Meyers and three sailors, they were on Omaha beach with Ens. Karnowski earning the Navy Cross, and MM2 Meyers the Silver Star.[81]

In early May 1943, a two-phase "Naval Demolition Project" was directed by the Chief of Naval Operations "to meet a present and urgent requirement", the first phase began at Amphibious Training Base (ATB) Solomons, Maryland with the establishment of Operational Naval Demolition Unit No. 1. Six Officers and eighteen enlisted men reported from NTC Camp Peary dynamiting and demolition school, for a four week course,[25][81] those Seabees were immediately sent to participate in the invasion of Sicily.[82] NCDUs or Naval Combat Demolition Units consisted of one officer and five enlisted, after that first group had been trained Lt. Commander Draper Kauffman was selected to Command the program that had been set up in Camp Peary's "Area E" close to the Seabee Dynamiting and Demolition school. Six classes were graduated from Camp Peary before the program was moved to Fort Pierce,[83] the men in those first classes referred to themselves as "Demolitioneers".[83] The NCDUs had 34 teams in England for the invasion of Normandy starting with NCDU 11, with Europe invaded most of the NCDUs were sent to Fort Pierce and integrated into the UDTs for the Pacific campaign. However, NCDUs were also sent to the Pacific with NCDUs 1-10 staged on Florida Island in the Solomons during January 1944.[84] A few were temporarily attached to UDTs.[84] Later NCDUs 1-10 were combined to form Underwater Demolition Team A,[84] it is most commonly referred to by it's USN phonetic UDT"Able". Another six NCDUs were assigned to MacArther's 7th Amphibious force and were the only NCDUs remaining at wars end.

In November 1943 the Navy learned a hard lesson with the invasion of Tarawa. Admiral Kelly Turner ordered the formation of nine underwater demolition teams. UDTs 1 & 2 consisted mostly of Seabees plus a few Amphibious Scouts and Raiders personnel.[85] They all had been through the NCDU program and additionally trained at Waimanalo, on Maui.[82] Seabees made up the vast majority of the men in teams 1-9 and 13 and were referred to as Seabee Teams.[85] Seabees were roughly 20% of UDT 11,[85] the officers were mostly CEC.[86] When Teams 1 and 2 were initially formed they were "provisional" with 180 men total,[87] they wore fatigues with life-vests and were not expected to leave their boats similar to the NCDUs. However, at Kwajalein Fort Pierce protocol was changed. Admiral turner ordered daylight reconissance and CEC Ens. Lewis F. Luehrs and Seabee Chief Bill Acheson wore swim trunks under their fatigues, they stripped down, spent 45 minutes in the water in broad daylight. When they got out were taken directly to Admiral Turners flagship, still in their trunks, to report. Admiral Turner concluded that daylight reconnaissance by individual swimmers was the way to get accurate information on coral and underwater obstacles for upcoming landings, this is what he reported to Admiral Nimitz.[88] The success of those UDT 1 Seabees not following Fort Pierce protocol rewrote the UDT mission model and training regimen,[89] as a result of UDT 1 the Naval Combat Demolition Training & Experimental Base was created at Kihei on Maui and was distinctly different from Fort Pierce. Those seabees also created the image of UDTs as the "naked warriors". Later, UDT 13 would be on the beach at Iwo Jima, they scouted prior to D-day, helped direct the first landing craft to the correct beaches on D-day and helped clear the beaches of debris on D-plus 2. UDT 14 was the first all Fleet team with no Seabees or Scouts/Raiders.

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.[90] 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 re-designated Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs) in 1968.

Operation Crossroads[edit]

In early 1946 the 53rd NCB was still attached to III Marine Amphibious Corps and was sent to Bikini atoll to assist in the preparations for the nuclear tests of Operation Crossroads,[91] the Battalion remained on the atoll for nine days after the second nuclear test when it was detached from the Marine Corps and deactivated there.[92] [93]

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, MCBs 2, 7, 9, 11 and 13 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.

Tank for PM3a nuclear reactor built by MCB 1 at McMurdo Station (U.S. Navy)

Operation Deep Freeze: Antarctica[edit]

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station NMCB 71
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, LGP-low ground pressure)[94] with the frames extended 4 feet and tracks 54 inches wide[94] 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,[95] 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.[96] with a diameter of 164 ft (50 m) and 52 ft (16 m) 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]

Marvin G. Shields, CM3, MCB 11, Medal of Honor (U.S. Navy)
Tektite I assembled by ACB 2

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 Naval Construction Regiments (NCRs) deployed throughout Vietnam; in 1968 the Marine Corps requested that the Navy make a name change to the CBs. The Marines were using "MCB" for Marine Corps Base and the Navy was using "MCB" for Mobile Construction Battalions, the Navy then added "Naval" to MCB creating the NMCBs that now exist. In May 1968 two reserve battalions were activated (RNMCBs 12 and 22) which brought the total number of battalions rotating to Vietnam at 21 not including ACBs 1 and 2 or two CBMUs, during 1969 the total number of Seabees that had deployed topped out at 29,000 and then their draw-down began.[97] The last battalion withdrew the end of 1971 which left 3 Seabee teams, they were out by at the end of 1972.

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.


Tektite I[edit]

On 28 January 1969 a detachment from Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 augmented by an additional 17 Seabee divers from both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets as well as the 21st NCR began the installation of the Tektite habitat in Great Lameshur Bay at Lameshur, U.S. Virgin Islands.[98] The Tektite program was funded by NASA and was the first scientists-in-the-sea program sponsored by the U.S. government.[99] The Seabees also constructed a 12 hut base camp at Viers that is used today as the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station.[100]

From the Cold War to terrorism[edit]

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 ten camps for more than 42,000 personnel; fourteen galleys capable of feeding 75,000 people; and 6 million ft² (600,000 m²) of aircraft parking apron and runways as well as over 200 helicopter 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]

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


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, 2006)
  • 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 two Battalions.[101]
  • 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.[102] 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.[103]

Naval Support Unit: Department of State[edit]

Naval Support Unit Seabees securing a diplomatic compound in Dec. 2010.(Dept. of State)[104]

Seabees were first assigned to the State Department in 1964 but it was not until 1966 that the support unit was created[105]. There are a limited number of special billets for select senior NCO's, these Seabees are assigned to the Department of State and attached to Diplomatic Security.[106] Those chosen can be assigned individually or be part of a regional team traveling from one embassy to the next. Duties include the installation of alarm systems, closed-circuit cameras, electromagnetic locks, safes and vehicle barriers, they can also assist security engineers in sweeping embassies (electronic counter-intelligence). They are tasked with new construction or renovations in security sensitive areas and supervise private contractors in non-sensitive areas.[107] Due to Diplomatic protocol the Support Unit is required to wear civilian clothes most of the time they are on duty and receive a clothing allowance for this, the information regarding this assignment is very scant, but State Department records in 1985 indicate Department security had 800 employees, plus 1,200 Marines and 115 Seabees[108].

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).

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.[1]:136 Frank J. Iafrate, a civilian plan file clerk at Quonset Point Advance Naval Base, Davisville, 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.[109] That design remains in use to this day, predominantly unchanged; in late 1942, after designing the logo, Iafrate enlisted in the Seabees.[110] The Camp PXs sold pennants with a different Seabee design on them that was stylistically similar to the Mosquito boat rating insignia.

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.[111] Other units simply used it like 133 NCB did on the front cover of their unit history the "Rain Makers Log".[112]

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,[113] the 78th NCB[113] the 112th NCB[114] and the 133rd NCB[112] Good candidates, though unknown, are the logos of the 1st NCB,[61] 53rd NCB,[115] 615th CBMU,[61] 30th Regiment[116] and the 6th Brigade[61] There are two Seabee logos in the book on WWII Disney insignia entitled "Disney Don's Dogtags" that are not identified with any unit. Disney did not create the original Seabee insignia.

A good spot to find Seabee unit insignia was on the sides of Tinian B 29s.[117][118][119]

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 an insignia very similar to what it had during WWII.

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

A small number of Seabees support Navy Special Warfare (NSW) units based out of Coronado, CA, and Virginia Beach, VA. Seabees provide services such as power generation/distribution, logistical movement, vehicle repair, construction and maintenance of encampments, water facilities and purification.[120][121][122][123][124] Seabees assigned to support NSW receive extra training in first aid, small arms, driving, and specialized equipment,[120][122] the Seabees assigned to NSW are expected to qualify as Expeditionary Warfare Specialists.[125][126] If desired or required by the unit, Seabees assigned to NSW are eligible to receive the following Naval Enlisted Classifications upon filling the requirements: 5306 – Naval Special Warfare (Combat Service Support) or 5307 – Naval Special Warfare (Combat Support),[127] they also can apply for selection to support the NSW Development Group.[128]

NCF nomenclature[edit]

Battalion[edit]

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. During World War II, there were more than 140 battalions commissioned,[12] since then, battalions have been activated and deactivated using WWII unit numbers.

  • 1942 to 1949: Naval Construction Battalion (NCB)
  • 1949 to 1964: Mobile Construction Battalion (MCB)
  • 1964 to present: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB)

From the early 1960s through 1991, reserve battalions were designated as Reserve Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (RNMCBs), after 1991, the word "reserve" was dropped signifying the integration of reserve units with the active units of the NCF.

Regiment[edit]

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.[1]:136

Brigade[edit]

In April 1943, Naval Construction Brigades (NCB) were organized to coordinate the work of regiments.[1]:136 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.

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 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.[129]

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-1) is based at CBC Port Hueneme.

Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB)[edit]

ACB 1 and USMC Beach Termination joint exercise in August 2015[130] (USMC)

ACB's (also abbreviated as PHIBCB) evolved out of pontoon assembly battalions formed as part of the Seabees during World War II, on October 31st, 1950 MCBs 104 and 105 were re-designated ACB One and ACB Two 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 no longer exist[edit]

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

Training[edit]

Seabees learning to use the M240

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 in learning map reading and land navigation, battlefield first aid, formulating defensive plans, conducting reconnaissance, and other combat-related skills. Half of each course is spent at a shooting range learning basic rifle marksmanship and qualifying with a M16A2 or M16A3 rifle and the M9 service pistol. Those that are posted Alfa Co of a NMCB 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 have now transitioned 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.

Seabees and Marines work together during a joint training exercise.

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[131][132]

  • 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[133][134]

The Seabee ranks of E-1 through E-3 use the designation "Constructionman" and wear sky-blue stripes on their dress and service uniforms, this blue was adopted in 1899 as a uniform trim color designating the Civil Engineer Corps but was later given up. Its use by the junior enlisted is a bit of Naval Heritage in the NCF.

At E9 the ratings are reduced to three: EQCM for equipment operators and construction mechanics, CUCM for builders, steelworkers and engineering aids, UCCM for construction electricians and utilitiesmen.

NCF today[edit]

At present, there are six active-duty Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs) in the United States Navy, split between the Pacific Fleet (Port Hueneme, CA) and the Atlantic Fleet (Gulfport, MS).

31st NCR - Pacific Fleet (Port Hueneme, California)[edit]

Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan (13 May 2009) Navy Petty Officers 1st Class John Cid, from Quezon City, Philippines, and Thomas Damron, from Port Hueneme, California, frame walls of the Regimental Combat Team 3 Combat Operations Center at Camp Leatherneck.
U.S. Navy Seabees framing walls at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan in 2009
  • 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. Cloyd., NAB Coronado.

20th NCR - 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-2 (established 15 September 1950, decommissioned August 1956)
  • NMCB-6 (established 15 April 1951, decommissioned 17 November 1969)
  • NMCB-7 ("Magnificent Seven") (established 15 August 1951, decommissioned August 1970, reestablished July 1985, decommissioned 5 September 2012)
  • NMCB-8 (established 10 September 1951, decommissioned 20 December 1969)
  • NMCB-9 (established 15 April 1952, decommissioned 17 November 1969)
  • NMCB-10 ("Men of Ten") (Originally 103 NCB (WWII unit), re-commissioned 2 October 1952, decommissioned June 1976)
  • NMCB-12 Headquartered at Davisville, RI (decommissioned September 1992)
  • NMCB-13 Headquartered at Camp Smith, Peeksill, NY (decommissioned September 1994)
  • 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 1994)
  • 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)
  • NMCB-20 Headquartered at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Columbus, OH. (decommissioned September 1994)
  • 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. (decommissioned 30 September 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") (established 1 February 1966, decommissioned 12 September 2012)
  • NMCB-53 (established 30 June 1967, disestablished 19 December 1969)
  • NMCB-58 (established 15 March 1966, decommissioned 17 November 1969)
  • NMCB-62 ("The Minute Men"), a.k.a. unofficially as "Sixty Screw" (established 2 July 1966, decommissioned 28 July 1989)
  • NMCB-71 (established 4 October 1966, decommissioned 1 July 1975)
  • NMCB-74 ("Fearless 74"), a.k.a. "Eager Beavers" in the 1980s (established 3 December 1966, decommissioned 2014)
  • NMCB-121 (established 4 February 1967, decommissioned 31 August 1970)
  • NMCB-128 (established 1 April 1967, decommissioned 17 November 1969)

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 L.J. 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[135] 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.[136] 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.[137] Exhibits at the Gulfport Annex are provided by the Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme.[138]

The Seabee Museum and Memorial Park[139] in Davisville, Rhode Island was opened in the late 1990s by a group of former Seabees. The Fighting Seabee Statue is located here.

Notable Seabees[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Chapter VI: The Seabees". Building the Navy's Bases in World War II: History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps 1940–1946. I. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. 1947. Retrieved 18 October 2017 – via HyperWar. 
  2. ^ "Chapter XXIV: Bases in the South Pacific". Building the Navy's Bases in World War II: History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps 1940–1946. I. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. 1947. Retrieved 18 October 2017 – via HyperWar. 
  3. ^ Formation 2015.
  4. ^ "Admiral Ben Moreell, CEC, USN". Seabee Museum and Memorial Park. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  5. ^ WDTVLIVE42 (24 August 2012). "Seabees – 1945 Educational Documentary". YouTube. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d "SeaBees Name and Insignia Officially Authorized". Naval History Blog. U.S. Naval Institute. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  7. ^ "The Seabees". Flying. Vol. 35 no. 4. October 1944. p. 261. ISSN 0015-4806. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  8. ^ "The Twelfth Regiment (Public Works) and the Origin of the Seabees". U.S. Navy Seabee Museum. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Introduction 2017.
  10. ^ The Seabees would name their first Training Center for Captain Allen.
  11. ^ a b "Chapter IV: Bobcat". Department of the Navy Office of Naval Operations: The Logistics of Advance Bases: The Base Maintenance Division Op30 (Op415). Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. 1947. Retrieved 18 October 2017 – via HyperWar. 
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Bibliography

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ USN BMR online[11]
  2. ^ Seabee Combat Handbook, Volume 1, NAVEDTRA-14234, Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center[12]