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Navy Seabees Stand Up Forward Operating Base During Exercise Bold Alligator

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS141104-24
Release Date: 11/4/2014 5:16:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jared Aldape

BOGUE, N.C. (NNS) -- Seabees from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expeditionary Support Unit (EODESU) 2 showcased their unique brand of craftsmanship in an expeditionary capacity during Bold Alligator 2014 (BA14), a training exercise that runs through Nov. 10.

The Seabees constructed an entire forward operating base (FOB) during BA14 -- a capacity that has become their trademark throughout history.

The FOB, which plays a vital role during the exercise, was but a vacant field just a week prior. As part of exercise BA14, Seabees were tasked with creating a unique operating environment for the core of the expeditionary forces.

'The mobilization is a huge part of the process,' said Engineering Aide 1st Class Asdru Arana, assigned to EODESU 2 and assistant site manager at Bogue FOB. 'That's our bread and butter, we train to mount out within 48 hours. Planning is the most strenuous part of this evolution. Execution in my opinion is the easy part. If you fail the plan then you plan to fail.'

Seabees conducted a number of site visits before they mobilized in preparation for the exercise.

'If you look at the topography of this area, this is all a drain hole,' said Arana, motioning to a portion of the field that is slightly lower than the rest. Originally, the location would have been the FOB's Operation Center. 'If we set up camp here a storm could flood out the entire area and damage electronics. We came up with a new plan for the layout and pitched it to all the planners. Some items worked and some had changed. Every plan is going to need an adjustment. Plans change on the fly.'

EODESU 2 Seabees are also joined by Sailors from Navy Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 202 during BA14. The Seabees have generated more than 240 man-hours a day, and over 60 units of lumber daily between the two commands in dedication to the construction and upkeep of the Bogue FOB.

'Day in and day out, building assets to specification and according to the mission is what we do,' said Utiltiesman 1st Class Robert Brooke, assigned to NMCB 202 and assistant site manager at Bogue FOB.

The Seabees were successful in standing up facilities to house communications and operation centers while setting up a perimeter and establishing an entry control point. In a systematic order, these construction experts made short work of setting up amenities for the FOB's inhabitants. From laundry and shower facilities to a gym and dining area there doesn't seem to be any end to what the Seabees can provide for the make shift installation. 'There's always an extra need at the camp,' added Brooke. 'If anyone on the FOB was unsure of what Seabees did, or what they're capable of doing it has become very apparent to them after walking through the camp. All of the amenities here are Seabee battalion driven.'

The Seabees on the FOB are self-sufficient, they are the public works that keep the utilities running. They keep the generators maintained to produce the electricity that powers outlets. The communications center for example is powered by a generator.

These handy Sailors take pride in what they build and the products they present. Many of the intricate wooden projects such as the FOB's sentry shack are not going to waste after the conclusion of BA14. A number of the camps components will be turned over to the local Marines at Bogue Field for their use. 'The Marines are more than happy to use the entry control point gate we've made for their airfield and other items for their own training scenarios.'

The simplicity of integrating Seabees from other commands and battalions is not to be overlooked. According to Brooke, within the Seabee community, Sailors are cross trained and understand the fundamentals of each other's respective trades.

'For example, I'm a Utilitiesman and I'm also a pretty decent builder,' said Brooke. 'I actually do more builder work than that of a utilitiesman. We're skillful in each other's trades, and that makes us a capable force over than let's say an Army Soldier who may be just focused on carpentry. That's what makes us unique.'

The concept allows Seabees to form a more cohesive unit by allowing the expectation that each member of the community has a basic understanding of how to being a construction project.

'It's about trust,' added Brooke. 'You can trust your Sailors to do their job safely and rely on each other.'

The job of the Seabee doesn't stop after the construction ends, they also make up half of the FOB's security team that runs the entry control point as well as providing Humvee or High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) support to fortify the installation's security.

'I'm glad that we're here and exhibiting our capabilities, I hope they'll take that into consideration for further exercises,' said Brooke.

It's easy to see how these Sailors fit seamlessly into the exercise alongside their support EODESU 2 counterparts.

'We are trained to work not only within Seabee battalions but to accomplish our job in high risk areas where EOD and special operate,' he said.

Seabees can also attach with deployed Marine forces as part of a joint task force.

'Battalion is the green machine,' explained Arana. 'We deploy and attach to Marine units, build camps similar to this from the ground up in expeditionary environments. That's where we made our mark throughout history, and to this day we are deployed worldwide.'

Today, the Seabees are making improvements to facilities to provide even more amenities to service members staying in the FOB. 'You give me 20 Seabees from anywhere and we can make a lot of difference,' said Arana.

BA14 is intended to improve Navy and Marine Corps amphibious core competencies. Working with coalition, NATO, allied and partner nations is a necessary investment in the current and future readiness of our forces. The exercise takes place Oct. 29 - Nov. 10, afloat and ashore along the Eastern seaboard.

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