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NMCB 21 Seabees Shine at "Bearing Duel" Field Exercise

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050322-01
Release Date: 3/22/2005 7:52:00 AM

By Journalist Seaman Ron Kuzlik, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 21 Public Affairs

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 21 from Lakehurst, N.J., completed Operation Frosty Teamwork in March, the "Bearing Duel" Field Exercise (FEX) at the national mobilization site at Camp Shelby, Miss.

In this unique, monthlong training exercise, more than 400 Reserve Seabees from the "Blackjack" Battalion trained side by side with 700 active-duty 'Bees from NMCB 74 of nearby Gulfport, Miss.

In addition to regular block training in convoy operations, patrols and reconnaissance, communications, and constructing and defending a forward operating base, the two battalions combined logistical, operational, and administrative resources, including forming a joint battalion aid station to tend to medical and first aid needs, as well as establishing food preparation and chow facilities that served more than 3,000 meals a day.

"Each battalion has its own strengths and weaknesses," said NMCB 21 Command Senior Chief (SCW) Vito Malacari, of Plains, Penn. "They (the NMCB 74 Seabees) can learn from a huge pool of talent that is inherent to '21, and we, in turn, can 'go to school' on the things that '74 has learned from doing this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Following completion of this year's FEX, both battalions passed the rigorous training guidelines and are deemed certified for possible future deployments.

"I was very impressed with NMCB 21's chiefs and the excellent small unit leadership by the troops at the squad and fireteam levels," said Marine Corps Advisor Capt. Scott J. Anderson of the 20th Naval Construction Regiment. "I've seen three active-duty battalions come thru FEXes, and NMCB 21's performance certainly ranks up there right with the active-duty folks."

Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 21 is based at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, N.J., with detachments at Naval Reserve Centers in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Its mission is to train for mobilization readiness and construction operations in support of Commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

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