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Navy Mobile Construction Battalion Builds Super SWA-Huts

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS090904-24
Release Date: 9/4/2009 3:00:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Lindsey, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 Public Affairs

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 74's Charlie Company is doing what they do best: building from the ground up.

Their project aboard Camp Leatherneck in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan calls for six Super South West Asia Huts (SWA-Huts).

Once the SWA-Huts are completed, they will be the permanent working space for the U.S. Marine's Combat Logistic Regiment (CLR). Each Super SWA-Hut measures 120 feet in length by 32 feet in width, contains multiple rooms, and has a reinforced roof to withstand high wind speeds. There are 58 Seabees working on the project divided into two crews of 26 and a safety team of 12.

Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 began the project in July, together with about 15 Soldiers from the 655th Asphalt/Concrete Detachment, whom are still on the project. The SWA-Huts were turned over to NMCB-74's advanced party in August about two weeks after their arrival.

"The turnover that we got with NMCB-5 was awesome," said Builder 2nd Class Steven Leguillow, a crew leader. "They taught us how they were doing things to get the same quality but quicker."

Charlie Company begins working at sunset and works through the night to avoid the extreme temperatures of the desert heat.

"We're able to move a lot faster at night because it is much cooler," Leguillow explained. "Once the temperature drops here we will begin working days."

For many Seabees on the site, this is their first deployment, and for some it is their first construction project outside of training. Many of these Seabees are giving and receiving on the job training while they work.

"There is a little bit of a learning curve as far as knowing the standards and how an actual job is run," Leguillow said. "This transition period for a young Seabee is normal and to be expected."

It is very common for Seabees in rates such as construction electrician (CE) or utilitiesman (UT), to find themselves doing work typical for the rate of builder (BU).

Construction Electrician Constructionman Apprentice Joanna Garcia explained that there is only so much electrical work to be done on a project like this. "We have to be flexible," Garcia said. "When we are finished, we help the builders carry wood or hammer nails."

Utilitiesman Constructionman Apprentice Akini Alexander found himself using a saw to cut wood for the first time after installing his portion of the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

"It wasn't too hard to learn how to make good cuts with the wood saw," Alexander said. "After a few days I was moving very fast."

"We have got an awesome crew and awesome crew leaders," said Leguillow. "All of the younger guys want to learn and they're just soaking all this up so that when they get to the next building they can just go, go, go!"

The project was originally projected to be finished late November, but Leguillow feels confident that at the rate things are going, they should be finished ahead of schedule.

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