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NMCB 1 Tackles Long To-Do List in Guam

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS090930-07
Release Date: 9/30/2009 5:11:00 AM

By James Fee, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- During Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 first deployment to the Pacific, the nearly 200 Seabees assigned to Guam are tackling a long list of construction projects throughout the island.

"We've got about 67 different construction activities," said High of the Polaris Point project. "We have it up in a big bar chart and we just go through it. And we'll pencil in at the end of each day how much progress we've made on each day."

On a sweltering afternoon, Sept. 24, a concrete pump swung over the rectangular framework of a slip for a boat tie-down at Sumay Cove on U.S. Naval Base Guam.

As the concrete began to issue in spurts, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 set to work: one of the Seabees directed the flow of concrete, three raked it to make the mixture uniform, and two pulled a power screed to smooth it over, pushing out excess water.

"You have to be pretty straight with everything because the concrete is going to show every swerve of formwork," said Builder 2nd Class Meleah Witt. "So if you're off even a little bit — precision is key for this project—it'll be very noticeable."

This pour would become the first of 20 12-foot-by-40-foot slips that will eventually comprise a place where Sailors can tie their private vessels down in inclement weather, and park them with less constrain at other times.

This site is only one of seven that NMCB 1 has been hard at work at since they arrived in August.

"As the Seabees, that's their can-do spirit. 'We build, we fight,'" said Lt. Teruo Toyama, NMCB 1, invoking the Seabee's motto. "So right now we're building. We're taking care of business out here."

Monday through Saturday, members of NMCB 1 can be found at naval facilities all over the south of the island.

On Camp Covington on Naval Base Guam, they are replacing 1,650 feet of existing drainage with a reinforced concrete ditch and replacing cast iron pipes with PVC to increase flow to the fire hydrants on both sides of their headquarters building.

Just beyond the base gates, they are finishing construction on an addition to the fuel farm building and constructing a 46-foot by 84-foot canopy over the oil reclamation facility. They are repaving the 42-vehicle parking lot at the Joint Region Marianas Headquarters atop Nimitz Hill. And they are building a chemical storage facility at Polaris Point.

NMCB 1's work on Guam serves a dual purpose; Seabees learn as they build.

Some of them are revisiting a different nature of work and need to sharpen parts of their skill set, as NMCB 1's previous deployment was to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It is a little bit different," said Builder 3rd Class (SCW) Michael High at the Polaris Point site Sept. 22, regarding the block work they were doing for the chemical storage facility. "We've been over in the desert. We were doing a lot of rough carpentry over there, mostly just working with wood."

Those who weren't deployed to the desert in 2007 and 2008 have another challenge.

"A lot of these guys are pretty new to the battalion," High said. "So it's nice to be able to get them on a project, show them the ropes on some of the things they've never done before."

Thus, the construction projects here on Guam provide a refresher course to some of the old hands and on-the-job training for newer ones, as they strive to attain the necessary precision, Witt spoke of above.

That precision is a focus throughout the planning and execution of projects. Each site is tracked according to plans members of NMCB 1 drew up into a program package while still homeported in Gulfport, Miss., in May, with progress measured in percentages completed.

NMCB 1 expects to complete the seven projects in December, but more work a waits. They look to be taking care of business for the duration of their six-month deployment.

"Pretty much when the crews finish their current projects, they'll move on and get jumped into a new project," said Toyama. "So we have projects throughout the whole deployment. We keep our guys busy."

There are 186 members of NMCB 1 stationed on Guam as part of the battalion's Pacific deployment. The rest are stationed throughout the region, in such locations as the Philippines, Palau and South Korea, supporting maritime strategy, as all Seabees do, through humanitarian and construction relief.



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