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Seabees Help Build Facility for Iraqi Police

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070524-07
Release Date: 5/24/2007 6:11:00 PM

By Lt. j.g Christopher Wald, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28 Public Affairs


AL FALLUJAH, Iraq (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28 joined efforts with Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 6 on May 16 to build a new facility for the Iraqi police.

The first challenge the Seabees faced was to transform the existing muddy, uneven, and debris-ridden project site into a level area suitable for construction.

A team of Seabees, commonly referred to as the “Rockhounds,” hauled in numerous truckloads of soil and gravel to fill in mud holes and level the construction site. More than 6,000 cubic meters of fill (enough material to cover an entire football field more than 3 feet deep) was needed, according to Equipment Operator 1st Class Steven Snow, the assistant officer in charge (AOIC) of the Rockhounds.

“Looking at the site now, one would never know that just days ago, this site was a swampy area, impassable for vehicles,” said Snow, who is a firefighter from Sheridan, Ark., when he isn’t mobilized. “Now, it looks like a smooth gravel parking lot.”

Once the construction site was leveled, the Seabees set the pre-fabricated berthing units in place, laid plumbing, installed bathroom facilities, ran electrical wiring, installed perimeter lighting and erected concrete “Alaska” barriers that protect the area from precision small arms fire and mortar blasts.

According to the project supervisor, Master Chief Constructionman Evans Adkins, a commercial construction supervisor from Canyon, Texas, it has been a very positive experience to get to work side by side with the Marines and the Iraqi Police.

“We have been doing good Seabee work supporting the Marines the way we were intended to do,” said Adkins. “This project has given the guys a much greater appreciation for what they have back home.”

Despite the challenging workload due to the harsh environment, lack of amenities like showers at the site and difficulties in obtaining construction materials, Adkins said morale is high and everybody has a great attitude.

Construction Electrician 1st Class Brian Landreneau, a master electrician from New Orleans, has been living at the project site for nearly two weeks working to keep the existing generators running and installing electrical wiring and components for the new facility. He said the best part of his experience on this project is how well everybody works together to get the job done.

“Everybody is friendly here ... including the Iraqi police,” said Landreneau who insists the worst part about being out on the project is dealing with the heat. “The convoys have done a very good job keeping us supplied with fresh ice, but some days it has been so hot that the ice melts between the convoys.”

“One of the most positive things I’ve seen out on this project is the camaraderie between our guys and the Marines,” said Builder 2nd Class Martin Calveneau, a firefighter from Grand Rapids, Mich., who is augmented to NMCB 28 from NMCB 26 for the duration of this deployment.

He also misses the showers and other comforts available at the main bases, but he is proud to be part of the work that has been accomplished and the teamwork he sees between the Seabees and the Marines.

“It’s amazing how much work has been done out here in such a short period of time,” said Calveneau.

Utilitiesman 1st Class Kevin Geegan, a high voltage lineman from the Houston area, says working on this project has afforded him the opportunity to do what the military has trained him for.

“It’s been a good operation so far. It’s been a test of the skills we have been training for such as establishing operational security and doing construction work on the fly,” said Geegan.

He added it was rewarding to be able to do something to help the Iraqi people.

“The Iraqis seem to be very good people. They are the ones we are really here for. They have been through a lot. Seeing what they are going through makes me want to do more. We can’t pull out now. We have to support these people or it could get a lot worse for them,” said Geegan.

The Seabees’ work at the Fallujah facility will result in a 250-person capacity facility that the Fallujah Police can use as a temporary holding space.

NMCB 28 is part of nearly 1,100 Sailors and Marines supporting critical construction efforts in the Al Anbar province of Iraq.

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