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American Forces Press Service

Seabees Build Up Forward Operating Base in Iraq

By Army Spc. Allison Churchill
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq, July 17, 2008 – The Navy’s amphibious construction battalions usually build water structures such as piers and bridges.

In just over six months, Seabees from Team 2, Detachment India, Amphibious Construction Battalion 2, completed more than seven projects and lent their talents to several more, including the 41st Fires Brigade tactical operations center, one of the largest wooden structures used by U.S. forces here.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristopher Maleport, engineer aide and Virginia Beach, Va., native, explained that mobile detachments typically take on land-locked assignments, so these projects differ from the norm for this small group of Seabees from an amphibious detachment.

The assignment has also been longer than usual. The battalion’s contract started in July 2007 and won’t be finished until at least July 2009, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Hermanson, Team 2’s officer in charge, said.

Seabees serve on six-month deployments; Detachment India is sending new teams, instead of having the Navy’s other amphibious construction battalion finish the work, said Hermanson, who calls Norfolk, Va., home.

“They bring a lot to the fight,” Army Lt. Col. Brian Pierce, 41st Fires Brigade garrison commander, said. Aside from building the brigade tactical operations center, Team 2 built the post office, the provincial reconstruction team’s office building, a temporary holding point for ammunition, an unmanned aerial vehicle site, a warehouse for storage of construction material and several checkpoints.

Team 2 also started a chapel and brigade annex, which will be completed by Detachment India’s Team 3.

“They exceeded the standard,” Pierce said. “The work is truly remarkable.”

The sailors build everything to standards that guarantee a structure for five years, and they appreciate kind words from the Rail Gunner leadership.

“It feels good when someone comes up to you and says, ‘Thanks, you did a really good job on this,’” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth Collier, a steelworker and a native of Jackson, Miss. He said the recognition is especially nice, since the Seabees often blend in with the Salvadorans and Georgians on the base, who also wear desert combat uniforms.

The previous team built six patrol bases in Iraq’s Wasit province, which are manned by 1st Georgian Brigade, and remodeled a chapel and medical facility for the Georgians, Hermanson said.

Along with completing the chapel and brigade TOC annexes, Pierce said, the next team has nearly 20 projects scheduled.

(Army Spc. Allison Churchill serves with the 41st Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office.)

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