Equipment Operator 3rd Class Cord Price clears obstructions during a road improvement project on Tinian. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Cole C. Pielop)

TINIAN, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands - Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3, Detail Tinian began initial ground clearance efforts on Marpo Heights Road G improvement in Tinian, Sept. 24.

The Seabee construction and engineering project will improve and repair approximately one mile of road to meet U.S. Department of Transportation standards for roadway systems and improve access for emergency vehicles in and out of the nearby residential areas.

The Marpo Heights road improvement project is a part of Department of Defense (DoD) Innovative Readiness Training (IRT). IRT missions are military training opportunities, exclusive to the U.S. and its territories, that deliver joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness, while providing key services to local communities.

IRT missions leverage DoD unit core capabilities combined with local resource contributions to produce mission ready forces, civil-military partnerships, and stronger communities. “The IRT roadway project presents an exciting opportunity for our Seabees to collaborate with Mayor Edwin Aldan and Government of CNMI partners for critical infrastructure improvement,” said Rear Adm. John Menoni, commander, Joint Region Marianas. “It allows our Seabees to simultaneously hone their construction proficiency through live training operations while directly improving quality of life for the residents of Tinian.”

Multiple organizations united to meet the logistical challenges of shipping 55 pieces of civil engineering support equipment (CESE) and $3.7 million worth of material to Tinian during a global pandemic. The expeditionary logistics expertise of the Seabees assigned to NMCBs 1, 3, 5, 11, 133 and 30th Naval Construction Regiment combined with support from Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the Island Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 and civilian contractors streamlined the endeavor, enabling the project to begin.

“My crew is definitely exceeding my expectations. With the material and logistical challenges in this COVID-19 pandemic, my team has come up with innovative ways to keep the project moving forward,” said Lt. j.g. Aaron Ignacio, officer in charge and project manager of NMCB 3, Detail Tinian. “I’m confident with the small crew that we have was built out for this specific mission. It is an amazing opportunity for the team to not only help out, but also establish friendships with the locals here on Tinian; who have all welcomed us on the island with open arms.”

The 10-man-crew is slated to complete the 0.77-mile road in February 2021. The improved road will receive new pavement, curbs, storm drainage, and traffic signs and markings. The project is estimated to use 1,897 tons of asphalt, 9,299 cubic yards of base course and subbase course along with 1,775 linear feet of storm drain system. These efforts will improve the training and readiness of the Seabees, improve roadway infrastructure for the local community and continue to strengthening the relationships between CNMI and the DoD.

“Years of weather has washed away the existing road,” said Equipment Operator 1st Class Eric Wingate, project supervisor for NMCB 3. “We’ve spent months and months planning for this job and we are excited to finally get started. There’s going to be a lot of obstacles in this road, but we’re going to take our time and do it the right way to give the locals the highest quality road we can.”

The IRT project is one of multiple Seabee projects being carried out concurrently in Tinian. The Seabees of Underwater Construction Team 2 are conducting an above and below surface inspection of Tinian harbor and the surrounding facilities. NMCB 3 is also building expeditionary Camp Tinian that will support various military units as they conduct exercises and training events in Tinian. In addition, the Seabees are also carrying out multiple community outreach and service projects including beach cleanups and beautification efforts.

“I am very humbled to be a part of a major infrastructure project on an island that is rich in Seabee history,” said Ignacio. “This is a very technical project that will give back to the local community, enhance our construction skills, and continue the ‘Can-Do’ legacy within the CNMI.”

The Seabees have a long relationship with Tinian, most recently deploying to the island to perform Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) following Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018. The Seabees were a primary part of the DSCA efforts which repaired 184 typhoon damaged roofs, installed 196 temporary tents for families whose homes were damaged and unlivable immediately following the typhoon, produced more than 54,000 gallons of potable drinking water, cleared debris from 64 miles of road, and translocated 10,036 cubic yards of debris.

NMCB 3 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. The battalion stands ready to complete assigned tasking, support humanitarian aid/disaster relief and major combat operations throughout the 7th Fleet area of operations.

Equipment Operator Constructionman Ramsey Lora conducts clearing operations. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Cole C. Pielop)