Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FIVE
The mission of NMCB 5 is to construct advanced base facilities in support of Navy, Marine Corps and other armed services engaged in military operations and be fully capable of defensive combat operations. In operations other than war, provide construction and engineering support to peace keeping, humanitarian assistance, civic action, disaster recovery and base facilities operations and maintenance.
Originally commissioned, "The Fifth Naval Construction Battalion" in 1942 and decommissioned in 1945 after World War II, U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FIVE was recommissioned on July 10, 1951. NMCB FIVE, the last battalion to serve in Vietnam and the first one to travel to Thailand, has earned a reputation for meeting the challenge of any endeavor during the 44 years it's been accomplishing quality construction projects. The proud tradition that is reflected in the "Can Do" spirit is as much a part of "The Professionals" of FIVE today as it was with their predecessors when NMCB FIVE was commissioned in 1951.
Over the years, the SEABEES of NMCB FIVE have traveled thousands of miles from their homeport in Port Hueneme, California. They've traveled to all corners of the globe putting their proficient construction skills to work. The late 1960's and early 1970's found the SEABEES toiling knee-deep in the muddy jungles of Vietnam. They have worked in the freezing snows of Alaska, the blue waters of Hawaii, and as members of Civic Action Teams (CAT) on small South Pacific islands. They've battled killer typhoons on Guam and Okinawa, tackled mammoth tasks in the Philippines, struggled tirelessly in the steaming jungles of Thailand and provided key construction support to U.S. Marines during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. FIVE's SEABEES have built airstrips, hospitals, bridges, roads, camps, water wells and facilities of every size, shape and description - you name it, "The Professionals" of NMCB FIVE have done it.
NMCB FIVE had hardly drawn the curtain down on its participation in the Vietnam war in 1971 when it was faced with new challenges in 1972. NMCB FIVE became the first alert battalion since the start of the Vietnam war to move its entire complement of personnel and equipment for a single construction effort. This giant operation resulted in the erection of the Nam Phong Air Base complex for the U.S. Marines in Thailand in record time. For their efforts in both Vietnam and Thailand during fiscal year 1972, NMCB FIVE earned the Pacific Naval Construction Force "Best of Type" award. NMCB FIVE also received the FY72 Peltier Award from the Society of American Military Engineers as the outstanding SEABEE battalion in the United States.
NMCB FIVE won the Pacific "Best of Type" again for its outstanding efforts at Camp Shields, Okinawa and in Thailand in 1973 and 1974. Following these deployments, NMCB FIVE moved to the Caribbean at Camp Moscrip, Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Puerto Rico in 1974 and 1975, and to NSF Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in 1975 and 1976.
Following its 1978 deployment to Puerto Rico, NMCB FIVE deployed to Diego Garcia again for an intense construction schedule. For their activities while on Diego Garcia in 1979, the men of FIVE were awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal.
While homeported in early 1980, FIVE played a major role in neighboring NAWC Point Mugu's flood disaster recovery efforts. The remainder of 1980 saw the battalion continuing its fine construction performance as the Pacific Alert Battalion while deployed to Naval Station, Guam in the Marianas Islands. From July 1981 to March 1982, the battalion deployed to NAVSTA Rota, Spain with details to Diego Garcia, Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, Greece and Scotland. In August 1982, FIVE deployed to Puerto Rico, with detachments on Vieques island, Andros island, NAVSTA Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Bermuda. A CAT team was also sent to Yap island in the South Pacific. The battalion returned to homeport in April 1983.
In October 1983, FIVE deployed again to Okinawa, Japan with details throughout the Pacific rim, and a CAT team on Yap island. Their successful deployment to Okinawa earned them the FY84 Pacific "Best of Type" award.
From December 1984 to October 1985, NMCB FIVE deployed to Guam. Details were sent to Subic Bay Naval Base, Philippines and Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii. Pride and Professionalism teams were sent to NAS Alameda and NAS Lemoore, Calif., and NAS Fallon, NV. A CAT team was also sent to Yap island. In 1984, NMCB FIVE won the Commodore's Cup for the top physical fitness program in a Pacific NMCB.
In December 1985, FIVE won the FY84 Golden Anchor award for its retention effort. FIVE also won the Commodore's Cup for its strong athletic program for the second consecutive year. From February to October 1986, NMCB FIVE embarked on an unusual deployment scattering "The Professionals" to locations around the world. About 200 SEABEES were deployed to Subic Bay, Philippines and Sigonella, Sicily, 90 were sent to NAF Adak, Alaska, 50 to Fleet Activities Sasebo, Japan and 30 to Capas-San Miguel, Philippines.
In April, FIVE responded to an emergency contingency operation following the Libyan missile action directed at Lampedusa island in the Mediterranean Sea. The Sigonella detail deployed a special detail to the Coast Guard station on the island, completing emergency interim and permanent security improvements. In the Philippines, the detachments at Subic Bay and Capas-San Miguel were also responding to contingencies. They accepted the challenge of operating critical base facilities including public works and transportation facilities, as well as the fire and police departments during a three-week strike by local employees. In December 1986, FIVE earned the FY86 Golden Anchor and Commodore's Cup trophies. It was the second consecutive year for the Golden Anchor award, a symbol of the command's outstanding retention program. The battalion's third consecutive Commodore's Cup award gave them the right to "retire" the cup with full honors and retain it permanently.
From May 1987 to January 1988, NMCB FIVE deployed to Puerto Rico, with details to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Thurmont, MD. and Dam Neck, VA. Other details were dispatched to Andros island in the Bahamas, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Rodman Naval Station, Panama. Also in May 1987, FIVE sent 60 members to the first field test of the 250 bed fleet hospital exercise at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, Calif. FIVE's SEABEES were tasked with providing the technical expertise to assist approximately 500 doctors, nurses and hospital corpsman with the erection and operation of the new hospital. Additionally, a 35 man detail spent 45 days deployed to Puerto Cortez, Honduras for military and construction training, and a 14-man detail was sent to Haiti for two weeks of U.S. Embassy duty.
In June 1988, NMCB FIVE deployed to Okinawa, Japan with details at Yokosuka Naval Base and MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, Adak, Alaska and a CAT team on Yap island. Prior to the battalion's return to homeport in February 1989, FIVE was awarded the FY88 Pacific "Best of Type" and Golden Anchor awards, as well as the 1988 Commodore's Cup for athletic excellence.
In October 1989, the battalion deployed to Puerto Rico, with details at Guantanamo Bay, Andros island, Panama, Antigua, Vieques island and Thurmont, Md. NMCB FIVE assisted with Hurricane Hugo disaster recovery efforts at Charleston, SC., Antigua and Puerto Rico. In addition, members of the Panama detail provided perimeter security for Rodman Naval Station during Operation Just Cause. In December 1989, FIVE earned its second consecutive Golden Anchor award, its fourth in five years. SEABEES participating in the Hurricane Hugo recovery effort earned the Humanitarian Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation and Coast Guard Special Operation Service Ribbon.
The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990 changed the battalion's plans for an Okinawa deployment. In late August, FIVE's Air Detachment deployed to NAS Jubal, Saudi Arabia. Over the next two months, the rest of the battalion's personnel and equipment were sent to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield. In October, the battalion was awarded the FY90 Pacific "Best of Type" award, and in December the battalion earned the FY90 Silver Anchor retention award.
NMCB FIVE provided critical construction support to the First Marine Expeditionary Force (IMEF) during both Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. January through March 1991 saw the battalion split into two groups. About half remained at Jubal Naval Air Station to continue construction projects in that area. Approximately 300 SEABEES from FIVE deployed to the Kuwait border and into Kuwait to build projects for the U.S. Marines liberating Kuwait from the Iraqi military. After NMCB FIVE returned to homeport in April 1991, the battalion was given the Peltier award as the top SEABEE battalion in the Naval Construction Force. Homeport training included a field exercise in the California desert at Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Combat Center.
In January 1992, NMCB FIVE deployed to Okinawa, Japan, with details at Adak, Alaska, and Yokosuka, NAS Atsugi, Sasebo, Marine Corps Camp Fuji and Iwakuni on mainland Japan. Deployment for Training (DFT) details were sent to U.S. Army Camps at Pohang and Chinhae, Korea, and a CAT team went to Yap island. In April and May the battalion deployed a detail of 35 SEABEES to Ie Shima island, Okinawa in support of Operation Jigsaw. There, Marines and SEABEES worked as one team rebuilding an airfield and constructing new culverts.
NMCB FIVE next deployed a detail of 23 SEABEES to Thailand as part of the annual Cobra Gold Exercise. The SEABEES acted as a CAT team in support of the Joint Civil Affairs Task Force in Thailand. Their primary mission was the reconstruction of an elementary school near Bangkok. Another group of SEABEES from FIVE was sent to drought-stricken Truk island in Micronesia to assist with disaster recovery for the island's inhabitants.
"The Professionals" returned to homeport in August 1992, and in October the battalion was selected as the FY92 Pacific "Best of Type". While in homeport, NMCB FIVE dispatched a detail to Camp Pendleton, CA. for disaster relief efforts dubbed Operation Mudslinger. Weeks of heavy rains caused serious flooding on the installation, and the SEABEES played a key part in getting the base back on its feet.
In an unprecedented deployment to the Caribbean theater beginning in March 1993, the SEABEES of FIVE deployed to an astonishing 15 different locations. With the main body at Camp Moscrip in Puerto Rico, NMCB FIVE manned five permanent detail sites including stateside Duration Forces at NAB Little Creek, VA. and NAS Cecil Field, FL. The battalion also deployed seven DFT's to Belize, Colombia, Grenada, Maine, Trinidad, St. Kitts and El Salvador. Six of these DFT's operated in isolated high threat areas and provided vital construction of counter-narcotics facilities and much needed host national projects. At each of these sites, NMCB FIVE completed a vast array of projects for its customers while providing its SEABEES with a tremendous variety of training opportunities.
NMCB FIVE returned to homeport in October 1993, and was presented the Pacific "Best of Type" award for the second consecutive year. During the homeport period, NMCB FIVE provided disaster recovery relief in the aftermath of the Ventura County fires by assisting firefighters and building a "Bailey" bridge for the city of Malibu. Only a few months later, on January 11, 1994, "The Professionals" were called upon to provide assistance to the Southern California earthquake victims following the 8.6 trembler that devastated the area. Thirty-two water buffaloes were sent to Simi Valley to provide water to the many neighborhoods left without water after the quake.
The battalion deployed to Fort Hunter Liggett in Central California for a field exercise where it was announced that "The Professionals" had once again garnered the Society of American Military Engineers' Peltier Award, as well as the Silver Anchor retention award.
In April 1994, NMCB FIVE made history once again with the arrival of the first female to serve with a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion. Builder Chief Petty Officer Cheryl D. Hundley slipped quietly into the ranks to uphold FIVE's tradition of professionalism. The battalion deployed to Okinawa, Japan in May 1994 with details dispatched around the Pacific rim. Details operated in Adak, Alaska; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Fuji, Atsugi, Yokosuka, Iwakuni and Sasebo, Japan; Chinhae and Pohang, Korea, and one DFT in Korea. During the course of their seven month deployment to the Far East, "The Professionals" logged many important accomplishments including a massive environmental cleanup in Adak, and the temporary deployment of a detail to the Philippines, where the SEABEES constructed schoolhouses for children in underdeveloped areas while participating in the 50th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Just prior to their return to Port Hueneme in December, "The Professionals" were awarded the coveted Pacific "Best of Type" award for the third consecutive year.
On May 31, 1995, NMCB FIVE welcomed aboard its 26th Commanding Officer, Commander James M. Barrett, III. In July, the battalion was tasked with assuming the duties of the 22nd Naval Construction Regiment(forward), serving under Joint Task Force 160, Operation Sea Signal, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "The Professionals" deployed their main body to the base in support of the contingency effort. Teams of Seabees were detailed to other Caribbean locations including Haiti, Puerto Rico, Vieques Island and Panama. DFT's were sent to the Dominican Republic and Grenada and Duration Forces sites at Little Creek, Va., and NAS Key West, Fla.
For its efforts during the 1995/1996 Caribbean deployment, NMCB FIVE was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation, Humanitarian Service Medal and the Coast Guard Special Operations Service Ribbon upon returning to homeport. During this homeport period, (February - September '96) for the second consecutive year, a member of NMCB FIVE was selected as the winner of the Marvin Shields Award. The 1996 award went to Steelworker First Class (SCW) Robert L. Bryant.
From September 1996 to April 1997, NMCB FIVE deployed to Okinawa, Japan with four mainland details including Sasebo, Iwakuni, Yokosuka, and Atsugi, as well as details to Hawaii and Pohang, Korea. The battalion sent a CAT to the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia. During this deployment, NMCB FIVE was chosen to participate in the multinational joint-military exercise Tandem Thrust' 97. For the first time, Tandem Thrust was conducted in Australia. NMCB FIVE sent a 45 member DFT including augments from reserve battalions.
On 27 June, 1997, NMCB FIVE welcomed aboard its 27th Commanding Officer, Commander Daniel P. King. In November 1997, NMCB FIVE deployed its main body to Puerto Rico and deployed detachments to Norfolk, Jacksonville, Guantanamo Bay, Andros and Vieques. A staff element was sent in support of US Support Group Haiti and was later followed by a DFT to Haiti. Four additional DFTs were deployed to El Salvador, Honduras, Tampa, and the Azores for a record five DFTS
Just prior to their homeport FEX in October 1998, the Battalion was again awarded the "Best of Type" award. NMCB FIVE completed its 23d deployment, with its main-body located in Okinawa and detachments in mainland Japan at Atsugi, Iwakuni, Sasebo, and Yokosuka, and Korea in Pohang and Chinhae.
During NMCB FIVE's Okinawa deployment they participated in Cobra Gold, one of the largest annual joint military exercises held in the pacific theater. Cobra Gold combines air, land, naval and amphibious operations as well as medical and civil engineering projects. Seabees from NMCB FIVE were attached to the Third Marine Expeditionary Force for the six weeks they participated in the exercise. In May of 1999, CDR Daniel P. King was relieved as the commanding officer of NMCB FIVE by CDR Mark A. Handley.
August 1999 brought training back home to Port Hueneme, Calif. for another successful homeport. NMCB FIVE participated in the operation "Bearing Duel" field exercise and made history by conducting the safest FEX in NMCB FIVE's history. The battalion's safety program was so innovative that parts of the program saw implementation throughout the NCF.NMCB FIVE was awarded the PACFLT Retention Excellence Award for 1999.
NMCB FIVE marched forward into the new millenium with a successful homeport "FEX" and motivated troops looking forward to their deployment to Camp Moscrip, Puerto Rico where they would serve as the Caribbean Alert battalion. NMCB FIVE metal was tested by tragedy just months prior to their Puerto Rican deployment when Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crashed near off the coast of Port Hueneme, Calif. on January 31, 2000.
Members of NMCB FIVE assisted federal, state and local authorities in the search and recovery of Alaska Airlines Flight 261. The Seabees removed debris and remains from the search and recovery vessels as they were brought in from sea. They also provided security for the areas surrounding the pier where authorities collected stored and researched material collected from the operation. NMCB FIVE rearranged their normal 30-day homeport watch section to five sections to support a 24-hour manning of security and debris removal stations.
NMCB FIVE's efforts resulted in the command receiving the U.S. Coast Guard's Unit Commendation Medal. In the spring of 2000, NMCB FIVE deployed to Camp Moscrip, Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. When the battalion arrived, they once again were brought into the national limelight, with new attention focused on a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico called Vieques Island and a project called "Operation Eastern Access." The Navy had a bombing range that they wanted to reopen and it was up to the Seabees of NMCB FIVE to bring the infrastructure back up to speed to accommodate the Navy's needs. True to the Seabee's "CAN DO" spirit, NMCB FIVE quickly began taskings that eventually lead to the reopening of the bombing range. The command coordinated efforts with Puerto Rican's, U.S. Marshals, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Marine Corps and carried out contingency taskings, communications, lodging, amphibious landings of personnel and equipment. Seabees also provided additional security for the bombing range while the fleet conducted important live-fire exercises to maintain efficiency prior to their deployments. In addition to the work that NMCB FIVE did on Vieques Island, Seabees from the battalion deployed to numerous sites throughout the Caribbean and eastern U.S. states including Jamaica, Andros Island, Trinidad/Tobago, Pascagoula, Miss., Norfolk, Va., Cuba, Jacksonville, Fl., Antigua, New Jersey.
NMCB FIVE's success earned them the "Best of Type" Battle "E" award for the year 2000.
"The Professionals" also earned the PACFLT Retention Excellence Award for 2000.NMCB FIVE's Caribbean deployment ended just in time for the Professionals to spend Halloween with their friends and families, and entered another new year with a proud, Battle "E" stride that carried them successfully through their homeport field exercise, Operation Bearing Duel.NMCB FIVE's "FEX" for the 2001 homeport was a "SuperFEX" because it combined the likes of two battalions, NMCB FIVE and a reserve Seabee battalion from Washington State, NMCB EIGHTEEN. Faced with guarding the largest perimeter in Seabee FEX history, NMCB FIVE endured torrential downpours and bitterly cold weather and accomplished one of their most successful FEX's in history despite inclement weather, an enormous territory to cover, and the logistics of working with another Seabee battalion.U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FIVE has earned a reputation for excellence and professionalism during the 50 years of its existence. The proud tradition that is represented by its "Can Do" spirit is as much a part of "The Professionals" of FIVE today as it was with their predecessors.
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