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NMCB 1 Deploys Seabees to Morocco

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050311-05
Release Date: 3/11/2005 11:03:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Dennis J. Herring, NMCB 1 Public Affairs

ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1, homeported in Gulfport, Miss., deployed Seabees from its forward-deployed site in Rota, Spain, to Northern Africa in March to perform humanitarian missions.

Approximately 50 Seabees from NMCB 1 are participating in a bilateral exercise there for three months with engineering forces from Morocco.

"Our deployment for training has been tasked with 90-days of projects tied in with Exercise African Lion," said Builder 1st Class (SCW) Andrew D. Day. "We will work alongside Marines in a joint operation with the Moroccan military."

Named African Lion 2005 Engineering Exercise, the exercise is based around a number of Engineering-Related Construction and Humanitarian Civic Assistance projects in the vicinity of Tan Tan. The diverse and demanding agenda being pursued in this exercise will enhance interoperability and develop military-to-military cooperation between the two countries.

The exercise-related construction projects include significant infrastructure upgrades on the Capdra training range. Upgrades include installing two 50-foot steel observation towers, a concrete helicopter pad, small arms berm, completion of the existing trench system, and improvements to the surrounding roads over a three-month period. The humanitarian civic assistance project will build a five-room school building for local children.

"This is an excellent opportunity for these Seabees to put their training to work. They are getting the chance to work different construction projects where they will get hands-on experience in a variety of job positions," said NMCB 1's Rota Operations Officer, Lt. Matt J. Bedard. "Even though this is primarily a humanitarian mission, from a military standpoint, they will also get some great chances to practice their convoy skills - moving equipment and supplies to and from job sites."

In preparation for the exercise, the battalion moved 1.1 million pounds of equipment and supplies by ship from Rota to Morocco. The shipment included 20 freight containers and 38 pieces of Civil Engineer Support Equipment.

Members of the unit loaded the shipment in Rota for the 36-hour trip to Morocco, where they offloaded and convoyed the supplies and equipment over unimproved roads to the area of Tan Tan. Nineteen members of the unit traveled in advance to prepare for the convoy.

Battalion officials said the unit consists of hand-picked, well trained Seabees who they believe will benefit extremely from the learning opportunities available during the exercise. They say these Seabees exhibit a perfect example of the "Can Do" spirit the Seabees are known for worldwide.

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