METINARO, Timor-Leste - Handpicked from a group of construction veterans, a 21-year old, female Seabee from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 quarterbacked a joint team of U.S., Timorese and Australian engineers to the successful completion of a 10-day, $30 thousand project, Oct. 18.
Builder 3rd Class Morgan Rego – who joined the Navy less than two years ago – presented her team's completed 15,000-liter fuel facility a full two days early to Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) Motor Pool Commander J. Da Silva, marking her first success as the most junior project supervisor in the history of NMCB 3.
"I was really nervous to be in charge of this project, but when the crane placed the diesel tank in place, I felt very proud of what we had accomplished," Said Rego during the official ribbon cutting ceremony. "Working as a team with two other nations' militaries as well as our Marine Corps counterparts makes the accomplishment very special."
Rego's leadership sprung at a very critical time. The state-of-the-art fueling facility needed built in order for NMCB 3's construction civic action detail (CCAD) and engineers from the F-FDTL, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Marine Corps to continue work on a new $1.5 million, 3,000 square-foot military headquarters. The team couldn't halt construction on the million dollar project, and as such, was facing a $5,000 charge in penalties each day the fuel facility remained delayed.
With this, Rego was called to the front.
"I needed someone who could make sure that all the critical project milestones were met in a timely fashion," said ADF Royal Australian Engineer and Sapper 13 Officer-in-Charge Warrant Officer Bill Fry. "Rego has impressed me with her performance as a crew leader and a mentor on the Sapper 13 joint exercise. I knew she was perfect for the job." Rego led 14 men during the construction. Under her supervision, the team poured eight cubic yards of concrete, installed a 30-foot security housing with a theft preventing fence and craned in the massive diesel tank to hold the fuel.
Although well planned, one mistake could have cost the team thousands in penalty fees or possibly even their lives.
"She is a rising star," said Sapper 13 Operations Petty Officer Construction Electrician 1st Class Colby Wightman. "I have never seen someone progress in the Seabees as fast as she has. She is a natural leader, and I'm excited to watch her continue to grow and do great things."
In an area prone to natural disasters, the Pacific Region relies on solid leadership and rigid professionalism to guarantee their population's safety.
"The stellar Seabee heritage in the Pacific is in good hands with Seabees like Rego," added Wightman.
Sapper 13 is a 28-day joint exercise involving Seabees and engineers from Timor-Leste's F-FDTL, the U.S. Marine Corps and the ADF's Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) Corps. In addition to the new fueling facility and military headquarters building, the team will build a school, renovate two others, construct a rock jetty and floating pier in addition to fixing up two rural medical clinics.
The CCAD's overall mission is to execute engineering civic assistance projects, conduct formal training with the host nation and perform community relations events to help enhance shared capabilities and improve the country's social welfare.
One of the first battalions commissioned during World War II, NMCB 3's legacy stands strong in its ability to build and fight anywhere in the world as either a full battalion or as a group of autonomous detachments, simultaneously completing critical engineering and construction missions.
For this deployment, NMCB 3 has split into nine details to perform critical construction projects in remote island areas such as Timor-Leste, Tonga, Cambodia and the Philippines. The teams will also conduct operations in Atsugi, Yokosuka and Okinawa, Japan; Chinhae, Republic of Korea and China Lake, Calif.
The Naval Construction Force is a vital component of the U.S. Maritime Strategy. They provide deployable battalions capable of providing disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance and combat operations support.
NMCB 3 provides combatant commanders and Navy component commanders with combat-ready warfighters capable of general engineering, construction and limited combat engineering across the full range of military operations.