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NMCB-5 steadfast for 9 months on Indo-Pacific deployment

10 July 2020

From MC1 Stephanie Belcher, NMCB-5

The battalion's originally planned six-month deployment has been extended due to COVID-19 and the Seabees press on in the region.

OKINAWA, Japan - Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5’s originally planned six-month deployment was extended due to COVID-19, and the U.S. Navy Seabees continue to press on in the Indo-Pacific region.

NMCB-5’s Seabees with NMCB-5 took over the Indo-Pacific region from NMCB-4 in October 2019 to support humanitarian aid/disaster relief (HADR) and major combat operations (MCO), if needed, throughout the region.

NMCB-5 continues to operate detail sites throughout multiple host nation countries on mutually beneficial projects, strengthening relationships, building new partnerships, and maintaining their operational readiness skills by providing construction and community relations projects throughout the Pacific Islands.

Throughout the deployment, the Seabees worked on more than 40 projects, taking 29,000 man-days of construction valued at more than $11 million, from a landfill capping project in support of Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, to building and renovating elementary schools in remote islands—such as Timor-Leste and Pohnpei, the Federated States of Micronesia; and Palawan, Philippines.

“NMCB-5, like all Seabees deployed to the Indo-Pacific, feels a special responsibility to live up to a long legacy of delivering high-quality construction in support of local communities across the region,” said Cmdr. Ryan Carey, NMCB-5's commanding officer. “For example, NMCB-5 recently completed the 100th Seabee project in Timor-Leste. This project provided valuable Seabee construction and logistics training and delivered a school for the Timor-Leste community of Fatumeta.”

The Seabees employ fully capable task-organized general engineer units independently or as part of a combined or joint force. They have enhanced the joint forces environment through construction projects, like Detail Diego Garcia’s work to build tension fabric structures in support of the U.S. Air Force, or Detail Marshall Islands work to building an evacuation center, which serves as the disaster preparedness building.

“The Sailors of NMCB-5 exemplify the ‘Can Do’ ethos, and have built upon the legacy of Seabees who have been operating in remote locations across the Pacific for decades,” said Cmdr. Seth Cochran, NMCB-5’s operations officer. “They provide high-quality construction and promote regional security through tangible projects that contribute to the well-being of the local communities in which we operate.”

These construction projects ensure the Seabees remain capable of quickly responding and supporting any MCO in their area of responsibility.

“Although deployed longer than originally planned, NMCB-5, with the strength and support of our families back home, is proud to represent our nation abroad through the COVID-19 global pandemic, doing our part to maintain our warfighting readiness while helping local communities stay healthy and safe,” said Carey. “Willing hearts and skillful hands of NMCB-5 ‘Professionals’ steadfastly continue to deliver results where and when needed.”

Other locations, such as Detail Tinian, supported host nations by revitalizing Tinian Children’s Park, which was destroyed by a category 5 super typhoon that took place in 2018; and assisting in the quelling of local brushfires during the recent dry season.

“The Seabees of NMCB-5 are robust, both individually and as a team,” said Cochran. “Their legacy, and access, are vital in meeting the Navy’s mission to protect and defend the United States, and its interests, through strengthened partnerships and continued regional security.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, NMCB-5’s Seabees adjusted how they operate to meet the U.S. military protocols while continuing to provide support to the host nations.

The Seabees helped construct a 150-bed Expeditionary Medical Facility in Guam as part of the COVID-19 response for the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). In addition to supporting fellow service members, they were able to accomplish the mission, maintain the operational tempo, and adjust to local government needs by designing and building handwashing stations, as well as head and shower facilities in isolated islands in the Pacific in an effort to help the local government prevent the spread of COVID-19.

NMCB-5 is deployed across the Indo-Pacific region conducting high-quality construction to support U.S. and partner nations to strengthen partnerships, deter aggression, and enable expeditionary logistics and naval power projection.

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