Seabees are members of the United States Navy construction battalions. The word Seabee is a proper noun that comes from the initials of Construction Battalion, (CB) of the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. The Seabees have a history of building bases
Military base
A military base is a facility directly owned and operated by or for the military or one of its branches that shelters military equipment and personnel, and facilitates training and operations. In general, a military base provides accommodations for one or more units, but it may also be used as a...

, bulldozing and paving thousands of miles of roadway and airstrips, and accomplishing myriad other construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 projects in a wide variety of military theaters dating back to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


World War II

December 1941, with U.S. involvement in war soon expected on both oceans, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell
Ben Moreell
Admiral Ben Moreell was the chief of the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks and of the Civil Engineer Corps. Best known to the American public as the Father of the Navy's Seabees, Admiral Ben Moreell's life spanned eight decades, two world wars, a great depression and the evolution of the...

, Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks
Bureau of Yards and Docks
The Bureau of Yards and Docks was the branch of the United States Navy responsible from 1842 to 1966 for building and maintaining navy yards, drydocks, and other facilities relating to ship construction, maintenance, and repair....

, recommended establishing Naval Construction Battalions at a newly constructed base at Davisville, Rhode Island (part of North Kingstown). With the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 and the U.S. entrance into the war, he was given the go-ahead. The Davisville Advanced Base depot became operational in June, 1942. Camp Thomas, a personnel-receiving station on the base, was established in October of that year. It eventually contained 500 Quonset hut
Quonset hut
A Quonset hut is a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel having a semicircular cross section. The design was based on the Nissen hut developed by the British during World War I...

s for personnel. On August 11, 1942, the Naval Construction Training Center, known as Camp Endicott, was commissioned at Davisville. The Camp trained over 100,000 Seabees during the Second World War.

In California in May 1942, a base for supporting the Naval Construction Force was established at Port Hueneme in Ventura County. This base became responsible for shipping massive amounts of equipment and material to the efforts in the Pacific.

The earliest Seabees were recruited from the civilian construction trades and were placed under the leadership of the Navy's Civil Engineer Corps. Because of the emphasis on experience and skill rather than physical standards, the average age of Seabees during the early days of the war was 37.

More than 325,000 men served with the Seabees in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, fighting and building on six continents and more than 300 islands. In the Pacific, where most of the construction work was needed, the Seabees landed soon after the Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 and built major airstrips, bridges, roads, gasoline storage tanks, and Quonset hut
Quonset hut
A Quonset hut is a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel having a semicircular cross section. The design was based on the Nissen hut developed by the British during World War I...

s for warehouses, hospitals, and housing.

The Seabees were officially organized in the Naval Reserve on December 31, 1947.

With the general demobilization following the war, the Construction Battalions were reduced to 3,300 men on active duty by 1950. Between 1949 and 1953, Naval Construction Battalions were organized into two types of units: Amphibious Construction Battalions (ACBs) and Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs).

Korean War

The Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 saw a call-up of more than 10,000 men. The expansion of the Seabees came from the Naval Reserve Seabee program where individuals volunteered for active duty. The Seabees landed at Incheon with the assault troops. They fought enormous tides as well as enemy fire and provided causeways within hours of the initial landings. Their action here and at other landings emphasized the role of the Seabees, and there was no Seabee demobilization when the truce was declared.

During the Korean War, the Navy realized they needed a naval air station in this region. Cubi Point in the Philippines was selected, and civilian contractors were initially selected for the project. After seeing the forbidding Zambales Mountains and the maze of jungle, they claimed it could not be done.

The Navy then turned to the Seabees. The first Seabees to arrive were MCB-3 on October 2, 1951; followed by MCB-5 on November 5, 1951. Over the next five years, MCB-2, -7, -9, -11 and -13 were also deployed to Cubi Point.

Seabees cut a mountain in half to make way for a nearly two-mile-long runway. Cubi Point turned out to be one of the largest earth-moving projects in the world, equivalent to the construction of the Panama Canal. The $100 million facility was commissioned on July 25, 1956, and comprised an air station and an adjacent pier that was capable of docking the Navy's largest carriers.

Following Korea, the Seabees embarked on a new mission. From providing much needed assistance in the wake of a devastating earthquake in Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 in 1953 to providing construction work and training to underdeveloped countries, the Seabees became "The Navy's Goodwill Ambassadors". Seabees built or improved many roads, orphanages and public utilities in many remote parts of the world.


Beginning in 1955, Seabees began deploying yearly to the continent of Antarctica. As participants in Operation Deep Freeze
Operation Deep Freeze
Operation Deep Freeze is the codename for a series of United States missions to Antarctica, beginning with "Operation Deep Freeze I" in 1955–56, followed by "Operation Deep Freeze II", "Operation Deep Freeze III", and so on...

, their mission was to build and expand scientific bases located on the frozen continent. The first "wintering over" party included 200 Seabees who distinguished themselves by constructing a 6,000-foot ice runway on McMurdo Sound
McMurdo Sound
The ice-clogged waters of Antarctica's McMurdo Sound extend about 55 km long and wide. The sound opens into the Ross Sea to the north. The Royal Society Range rises from sea level to 13,205 feet on the western shoreline. The nearby McMurdo Ice Shelf scribes McMurdo Sound's southern boundary...

. Despite a blizzard that once destroyed the entire project, the airstrip was completed in time for the advance party of Deep Freeze II to become the first to arrive at the South Pole by plane.

Over the following years and under adverse conditions, Seabees added to their list of accomplishments such things as snow-compacted roads, underground storage, laboratories, and living areas. One of the most notable achievements took place in 1962, when the Navy's builders constructed Antarctica's first nuclear power plant, at McMurdo Station
McMurdo Station
McMurdo Station is a U.S. Antarctic research center located on the southern tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand-claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. It is operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program, a branch of the National...


During the Cold War, the Seabees undertook a number of other missions, including constructing the Distant Early Warning Line
Distant Early Warning Line
The Distant Early Warning Line, also known as the DEW Line or Early Warning Line, was a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic region of Canada, with additional stations along the North Coast and Aleutian Islands of Alaska, in addition to the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland...

 in the Arctic. Again operating often under extreme conditions, the Seabees successfully completed every mission assigned to them.

Vietnam War

Seabees were deployed to Vietnam throughout the conflict beginning in small numbers in June 1954 and extending to November 1972. By 1962, they began building camps for Special Forces. In June 1965, Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields, part of Seabee Team 1104, was actively engaged at the Battle of Dong Xoai
Battle of Dong Xoai
The Battle of Đồng Xoài was a major battle fought during the Communist Summer Offensive of 1965 as part of the Vietnam War. The battle took place in Phuoc Long Province, South Vietnam, between June 9 and 13, 1965. In 1964, General Nguyen Khanh gained control of the South Vietnamese government after...

 and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

 for his actions there. Shields remains the only Seabee ever to be awarded the Medal of Honor. These "Civic Action Teams" continued into the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 where Seabees, often fending off enemy forces alongside their Marine and Army counterparts, also built schools and infrastructure and provided health care service. Beginning in 1965, full Seabee battalions (MCBs) and Naval Construction Regiments (NCRs), along with other unit types, were deployed throughout Vietnam. Seabees from the Naval Reserve provided individual personnel early on to augment regular units and two battalions, MCB 12 and MCB 22.

In Vietnam, the Seabees supported the Marines and built a staggering number of aircraft-support facilities, roads, and bridges; they also paved roads that provided access to farms and markets, supplied fresh water to countless numbers of Vietnamese through hundreds of Seabee-dug wells, provided medical treatment to thousands of villagers, and built schools, hospitals, utilities systems, roads and other community facilities. Seabees also worked with and taught construction skills to the Vietnamese people.

After Vietnam, the Seabees built and repaired Navy bases in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, and Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. Their civic action projects focused on the Trust Territories of the Pacific.

In 1971, the Seabees began their largest peacetime construction on Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia is a tropical, footprint-shaped coral atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean at 7 degrees, 26 minutes south latitude. It is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory [BIOT] and is positioned at 72°23' east longitude....

, a small atoll in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. This project took 11 years and cost $200 million. The complex accommodates the Navy's largest ships and the biggest military cargo jets. This base proved invaluable when Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 invaded Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 in August 1990 and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm were launched.

From Cold War to Terrorism

As the Cold War cooled off, new challenges were presented by the increased incidence of terrorism. Also there were ongoing support missions to Diego Garcia, Guam, Okinawa, Navy and Marine Bases in Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guantanamo Bay, Guatemala, the Naval Support Facility for Polaris and Poseidon Submarines in Holy Loch Scotland, Rota Spain, Naples Italy and Suda Bay Crete.

Seabee construction efforts led to the expansion and improvement of Naval Air Facility, Sigonella Sicily, turning this into a major base for the Navy’s Sixth Fleet aviation activities.

There were combat roles as well. In 1983, a truck bomb demolished the barracks the Marines had secured in Beirut, Lebanon. After moving to the Beirut International Airport and setting up quarters there, Druse militia artillery began harassing the Marines. After consultations with the theater commander and Marine amphibious command and combat engineers, the forward deployed battalion in Rota Spain sent in a work party with heavy equipment. Construction of artillery resistant quarters went on from December 1983 until the Marines’ withdrawal in February 1984. Only one casualty occurred when an Equipment Operator using a bulldozer to clear fields of fire was wounded by an RPG attack. The Seabees were proud that the Marines had greatly improved protection from ongoing artillery harassment.

Gulf War

During the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

, more than 5,000 Seabees (4,000 active and 1,000 reservists) served in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. In Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, Seabees built 10 camps for more than 42,000 personnel; 14 galleys capable of feeding 75,000 people; and 6 million ft² (600,000 m²) of aircraft parking apron and runways as well as 200+ Helo landing zones. They built and maintained two 500-bed Fleet Hospitals near the Port city of Al-Jubayl.

Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan

Seabees continue to provide critical construction skills in connection with the effort to rebuild the infrastructure of both Iraq and Afghanistan. All Active and Reserve Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs) and Naval Construction Regiments (NCRs) have been deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Seabees have been deployed since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. One of their most high profiles tasks in Iraq has been the removal of statues of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 in Baghdad. In Afghanistan, the Seabees main task has been the construction of multiple Forward Operating Bases for U.S. and coalition forces.

Operation Enduring Freedom Southern Philippines

Since 2002, Seabees have provided critical and tactical construction skills in an effort to win the hearts and minds of locals. Their efforts have begun to deter the rising influence of radical terrorists in the southern Philippines, most notably the Abu Sayyaf's jungle training area. Seabees work along with Army, Marines, and Air Force under Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines.

Disaster Relief and Recovery

Seabees supported disaster recovery efforts for victims of the Northridge earthquake
Northridge earthquake
The Northridge earthquake was a massive earthquake that occurred on January 17, 1994, at 04:31 Pacific Standard Time in Reseda, a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles, California, lasting for about 10–20 seconds...

 of 1994.

In summer 1992, Seabees were called on to provide recovery assistance for Homestead, Florida
Homestead, Florida
Homestead is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States nestled between Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. Homestead is primarily a Miami suburb and a major agricultural area....

 following Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew was the third Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States, after the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969. Andrew was the first named storm and only major hurricane of the otherwise inactive 1992 Atlantic hurricane season...

. Seabees were also vital to the humanitarian efforts in Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 during Operation Restore Hope in 1992-1993. In 1994, they were again called on to provide assistance to the Haitian Relief effort at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base
Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is located on of land and water at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba which the United States leased for use as a coaling station following the Cuban-American Treaty of 1903. The base is located on the shore of Guantánamo Bay at the southeastern end of Cuba. It is the oldest overseas...

, Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

. On Christmas Day 1995, Seabees arrived in Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 to support the Army by building camps as part of Operation Joint Endeavor, the peacekeeping effort in Sarajevo
Sarajevo |Bosnia]], surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacka River in the heart of Southeastern Europe and the Balkans....

, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

On September 23, 1998, Hurricane Georges plowed through the Caribbean Islands causing millions of dollars in damage and generating thousands of DRT (disaster recovery team) man hours for the Seabees. The Navy provided generators and water trucks that were taken to nearby cities and damage assessment teams were sent to the local islands.

Shortly after Hurricane Georges ravaged Puerto Rico and most of the Caribbean, the Seabees immediately turned their focus towards Hurricane Mitch, which was the most powerful hurricane of the 1998 season. Mitch left more than 17,000 people dead due to the high winds and heavy rains that Mitch produced creating mud slides that buried thousands in Central America. The Seabees deployed to Honduras participating in operations with Joint Task Force Bravo providing capabilities to conduct engineer reconnaissance, repair roads and bridges, clear debris, remove bridges and build base camps. The SEVEN was the first Navy element to arrive in Central America taking part in their second humanitarian mission on the deployment.

Seabees deployed in September 2004 in response to Hurricane Ivan
Hurricane Ivan
Hurricane Ivan was a large, long-lived, Cape Verde-type hurricane that caused widespread damage in the Caribbean and United States. The cyclone was the ninth named storm, the sixth hurricane and the fourth major hurricane of the active 2004 Atlantic hurricane season...

’s destruction to the Naval Air Station Pensacola
Naval Air Station Pensacola
Naval Air Station Pensacola or NAS Pensacola , "The Cradle of Naval Aviation", is a United States Navy base located next to Warrington, Florida, a community southwest of the Pensacola city limits...

, Florida. The Seabees cleared hurricane debris, repaired roads, erected tents, and otherwise assisted fellow service members.

The Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi suffered damage during Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 in 2005. Seabees were tasked to rebuild the base and the Gulf Coast.

Seabee units have also been deployed to provide construction support and disaster relief to Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 following the earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...

 in 2010.

Seabees from NMCB-133
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 is a United States Navy Construction battalion, otherwise known as a Seabee Battalion, based out of Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Mississippi.-Early History:...

 deployed to Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 as part of the relief effort after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami
2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami
The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, also known as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, or the Great East Japan Earthquake, was a magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST on Friday, 11 March 2011, with the epicenter approximately east...



There are also three special Navy units that are primarily Seabee units. Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE) units deploy worldwide to provide power, water purification and technical support at a moment's notice for military and humanitarian missions. Naval Support Unit State Department is where Seabees work, rehab and maintain security areas at US Embassies and Consulates overseas and Presidential Support Duty, which is located at Camp David
Camp David
Camp David is the country retreat of the President of the United States and his guests. It is located in low wooded hills about 60 mi north-northwest of Washington, D.C., on the property of Catoctin Mountain Park in unincorporated Frederick County, Maryland, near Thurmont, at an elevation of...

. While assigned to the State Department, a Seabee reports to a Department of State Security Engineering Officer or directly to a Department of State Regional Security Officer
Regional Security Officer
Regional Security Officer is the title given to special agents of the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service serving overseas. The RSO is the principal security attaché and advisor to the U.S. Ambassador at American Embassies and consulates. Working for the U.S...

, who both work for the Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security, more commonly known as Diplomatic Security, or DS, is the security and law enforcement arm of the United States Department of State. DS is a world leader in international investigations, threat analysis, cyber security, counterterrorism, security technology, and...

. Along with the Marine Security Guard (MSG) program, this is a rare example of an active-duty uniformed member of the U.S. armed forces who is operationally controlled through a civilian, albeit law enforcement, head.

There are currently around 17,000 Seabees, active and reserve, serving in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...


Unit nomenclature

The nomenclature of Seabee units has changed over time. From WWII until 1949, the main Seabee units were designated as Naval Construction Battalions (NCB); from then until 1974, they were Mobile Construction Battalions (MCB); and from 1974 until the present they have been Naval Mobile Construction Battalion
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion
There are 9 active-duty Naval Mobile Construction Battalions — known as C.B.'s — in the United States Navy, split between the east and west coasts...

s (NMCB). Individual units are distinguished by numbers before the letters (WWII era) or after them (all others).

Designations of other Seabee units have included Construction Battalion Unit (CBU), Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU), Underwater Construction Team (UCT), and Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB), all with numbers following the letters. Seabee units with numbers preceding the letters are or have been Naval Construction Regiments (NCR), Seabee Readiness Groups (SRG), and Naval Construction Divisions (NCD).


The newcomers begin "A" School (preliminary training) fresh out of boot camp, or they come from the fleet after their service term is met, spending about 75% of the twelve weeks immersed in hands-on training. The remaining 25% is spent in classroom instruction. From "A" School, new Seabees most often report to an NMCB command for their first tour of duty. For training, the new Seabees attend a four-week course known as Expeditionary Combat Skills (ECS) at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

, and Port Hueneme, California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. ECS is also being taught to all personnel who report to a unit in the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command. ECS is a basic combat-skills course where the students spend time in a classroom environment learning map reading and land navigation, battlefield first aid, how to lay out defensive plans, how to conduct patrols, vehicle egress, and many other combat-related skills. Half of each course is spent at a rifle range where students learn basic rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

 marksmanship and then qualify with the M-16A2
M16 rifle
The M16 is the United States military designation for the AR-15 rifle adapted for both semi-automatic and full-automatic fire. Colt purchased the rights to the AR-15 from ArmaLite, and currently uses that designation only for semi-automatic versions of the rifle. The M16 fires the 5.56×45mm NATO...

 and A3 service rifles. ECS students also learn fundamentals of the M9 service pistol
M9 Pistol
The Beretta M9, formally Pistol, Semiautomatic, 9mm, M9, is a 9×19mm Parabellum pistol of the United States military adopted in 1985. It is essentially a military specification Beretta 92F, later the 92FS....

 and qualify. At the end of training, new Seabees are ready to perform with their new battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

. During their tenure with an NMCB, personnel may be assigned to a crew-served weapon, such as the MK 19
Mk 19 grenade launcher
The Mk 19 Grenade Launcher is a 40 mm belt-fed automatic grenade launcher or grenade machine gun that entered U.S. military service during the Cold War, first seeing action during the Vietnam War and remaining in service today.-Overview:...

 40 mm grenade launcher, the M2HB .50-caliber machine gun, or the M240
The M240, officially Machine Gun, 7.62mm, M240, is the US military designation for the FN MAG , a family of belt-fed, gas-operated medium machine guns firing the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge.The M240 has been used by the United States Armed Forces since the mid-1980s...

 machine gun. Many reserve units still field variants of the M-60 machine gun. Unlike most navy personnel, Seabees wear the M81 Woodland
M81 Woodland
Woodland pattern is the name of the default camouflage pattern issued to United States soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors from 1981, with the issue of the M81 Battle Dress Uniform until nearly the present day...

 camouflage uniform or the legacy tri-color Desert Camouflage Uniform
Desert Camouflage Uniform
The Desert Camouflage Uniform is essentially the same as the United States military's Battle Dress Uniform uniform, only featuring the three-color desert camouflage pattern of light tan, pale green, and brown, as opposed to the dark green, black, brown, and dark tan of the BDU's woodland pattern...

. Seebee's use ALICE
Alice may refer to:* Alice , including a list of notable people called Alice-Books and comics:* Alice , the heroine of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass...

 field gear as well as some units working with Marines use USMC issue ILBE
The Improved Load Bearing Equipment or ILBE is a United States Marine Corps program that includes individual load carriage equipment, individual hydration systems and individual water purification. Since the rucksack was the first part of the program issued to Marines, the ruck is commonly...


About one-third of new Seabees are assigned to Public Works Departments at Naval installations both within the U.S. and overseas. While stationed at a Public Works Department, a Seabee has the opportunity to get specialized training and extensive experience in one or more facets of their rating.


There are seven source ratings for the Seabee community:
  • Construction Mechanics
    Construction Mechanic (US Navy)
    Construction Mechanic is a United States Navy occupational rating.Construction Mechanics perform tasks involved in maintenance, repair and overhaul of automotive, materials handling and construction equipment; assign and supervise activities of assistants who locate, analyze and correct...

     (CM) maintain and repair the construction machinery used by the Seabees, such as power tools and heavy equipment.
  • Equipment Operators
    Equipment Operator (US Navy)
    Equipment Operator is a United States Navy occupational rating.Equipment Operators perform tasks involving deployment and operation of automotive, materials handling, weight lifting and construction equipment; direct and coordinate efforts of individuals and crews in execution of construction,...

     (EO) operate heavy construction equipment and coordinate rigging operations.
  • Utilitiesmen
    Utilitiesman (US Navy)
    Utilitiesman is a United States Navy occupational rating.Utilitiesmen plan, supervise and perform tasks involved in installation, maintenance and repair of plumbing, heating, steam, compressed air, fuel storage and distribution systems, water treatment and distribution systems, air conditioning...

     (UT) install, maintain, and operate a building's mechanical and fluid systems.
  • Construction Electricians
    Construction Electrician (US Navy)
    Construction Electrician is a United States Navy occupational rating.Construction Electricians install and repair wiring; overhead and underground primary and secondary distribution systems; setup, operate and service electrical equipment; climb poles and towers utilizing lineman's equipment;...

     (CE) install a building's electrical distribution and emergency power systems.
  • Builders
    Builder (US Navy)
    Builder is a United States Navy occupational rating. A builder is responsible for the construction and repair of wood, concrete, and masonry structures. Their work can involve sheet rock, ceramic tile, or painting, while senior personnel deal with material estimates and labor projections...

     (BU) are responsible for general construction, including carpentry, concrete, masonry, and finish work.
  • Steel Workers
    Steel Worker (US Navy)
    Steelworker is a United States Navy occupational rating.Steelworkers perform tasks directly related to fabrication and erection of pre-engineered structures, including steel reinforcement; control job site deployment of materials and equipment; direct and coordinate the composition, training and...

     (SW) are responsible for erecting structural steel and reinforcing steel in concrete construction.
  • Engineering Aides
    Engineering Aide (US Navy)
    Engineering Aide is a United States Navy occupational rating.Engineering Aides plan, supervise and perform tasks required in construction surveying, construction drafting, planning and estimating and quality control; prepare progress reports, time records, construction schedules and material and...

     (EA) are responsible for construction surveying, drafting, soils analysis, and project estimation.


The military qualification badge for the Seabees is known as the Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist insignia (SCWS). It is issued to both officers and enlisted personnel and recognizes those who have been fully trained and qualified as a member of the various Naval Construction Force (NCF) units. Only members attached to a qualifying NCF unit are eligible for the SCWS pin. The qualifying units include: Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCB), Amphibious Construction Battalions (ACB), Naval Construction Force Support Units (NCFSU), Underwater Construction Teams (UCT), and, since the end of 2008, Naval Construction Regiments (NCR).


The ranks of E-1 through E-3 in the Navy include Seaman
Seaman is one of the lowest ranks in a Navy. In the Commonwealth it is the lowest rank in the Navy, followed by Able Seaman and Leading Seaman, and followed by the Petty Officer ranks....

 (white stripes), Airman (green stripes), and Fireman (red stripes). E-1 through E-3 Seabees use the designation Constructionman and wear sky-blue stripes on their dress and service uniforms.


Frank J. Iafrate, a civilian plan file clerk at Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, was the artist who designed the original Seabee logo ("Fighting 'Bee") in early 1942. The logo has remained in use, unchanged. In late 1942, after designing the logo, he enlisted in the Seabees.

During World War II, artists working for Walt Disney designed logos for about ten Naval Construction units, including the 60th Naval (Canal) Construction Battalion and the 133rd Naval Construction Battalion
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 is a United States Navy Construction battalion, otherwise known as a Seabee Battalion, based out of Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Mississippi.-Early History:...

, in 1943.


The "Song of the Seabees" was written in 1943. The lyrics were composed by Sam M. Lewis
Sam M. Lewis
Sam M. Lewis was a Jewish-American singer and lyricist, born in New York City, New York as Samuel Levine-Biography:...

, and the musical composition was written by Peter DeRose
Peter DeRose
Peter DeRose was an American Hall of Fame composer of jazz and pop music during the Tin Pan Alley era.-Biography:DeRose was born in New York City and as a boy exhibited a gift for things musical...

. The first verse of the song, however, is usually the only verse to be sung or played at official functions.


  • Navy diver Robert Stethem
    Robert Stethem
    Robert Dean Stethem was a United States Navy Seabee diver who was killed by Hezbollah militants during the hijacking of the commercial airliner he was aboard: TWA Flight 847...

     was murdered by the Lebanese
    Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

     Shia militia Hezbollah when they hijacked TWA Flight 847
    TWA Flight 847
    TWA Flight 847 was an international Trans World Airlines flight which was hijacked by Lebanese Shia extremists, later identified as members of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, on Friday morning, June 14, 1985, after originally taking off from Cairo. The flight was en route from Athens to Rome and then...

     in 1985. Stethem was a Steel Worker Second Class (SW2), a Seabee diver and member of Underwater Construction Team ONE. The USS Stethem (DDG-63)
    USS Stethem (DDG-63)
    USS Stethem is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the United States Navy. The ship was built in Pascagoula, Mississippi, starting on May 11, 1993. The ship was commissioned on October 21, 1995 and is based out of Yokosuka, Japan. It has operated throughout the Pacific Ocean, as well as on...

     is named in his honor. On August 24, 2010 onboard USS Stethem in Yokosuka, Japan, Stethem was posthumously made an honorary Constructionman Master Chief Petty Officer
    Master Chief Petty Officer
    - Master Chief Petty Officer :U.S. Coast GuardMaster ChiefPetty OfficerCap & Collar deviceU.S. Coast GuardMaster ChiefPetty OfficerinsigniaGood conductRating badgeMaster ChiefPetty OfficerCap & Collar Insignia...

     by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
    Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
    The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy is a unique non-commissioned rank in the United States Navy, which has a paygrade of E-9. The holder of this rank and post is the most senior enlisted member of the U.S...



See also: Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme#Museum and U.S. Navy Museum#Other Navy museums

The U. S. Navy Seabee Museum is located at Naval Base Ventura County, in Port Hueneme, California. The new, completely remodeled museum opened on 22 July 2011, located outside the base itself, near the entrance to the Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme, California. Due to the location, visitors are be able to visit the museum without having to enter the base itself.

The Seabee Museum and Memorial Park, in Davisville, Rhode Island
Davisville, Rhode Island
Davisville, Rhode Island was the former home of the U.S. Navy SeaBees. It was located at Quonset Point on Narragansett Bay, an area now included in the town of North Kingstown. The Navy acquired the property in 1939 and built Naval Air Station Quonset Point...

, was opened in the late 1990s by a group of former Seabees. The Fighting Seabee Statue is located here.

The Seabee Heritage Center is located at Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Mississippi.

In popular Media

The 1944 War film The Fighting Seabees
The Fighting Seabees
The Fighting Seabees is a 1944 war film starring John Wayne and Susan Hayward. The picture portrays a heavily fictionalized account of the dilemma that led to the creation of the U.S. Navy's "Seabees" in World War II...

, staring John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

, tells a heavily fictionalized story of the formation of the Seabees and their first taste of combat.

See also

  • Military engineer
    Military engineer
    In military science, engineering refers to the practice of designing, building, maintaining and dismantling military works, including offensive, defensive and logistical structures, to shape the physical operating environment in war...

  • United States Air Force
    United States Air Force
    The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

     Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers
    Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers
    United States Air Force Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers units are the Service's equivalent of the USMC Combat Engineers and Navy Seabees....

  • Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force
    Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force
    The United States Air Force's Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force are rapidly deployable, specialized civil engineer units, that provide a full range of engineering support required to establish, operate, and maintain garrison and contingency airbases....

  • United States Army Corps of Engineers
    United States Army Corps of Engineers
    The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

  • Naval Mobile Construction Battalion
    Naval Mobile Construction Battalion
    There are 9 active-duty Naval Mobile Construction Battalions — known as C.B.'s — in the United States Navy, split between the east and west coasts...

  • Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme
    Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme
    Naval Construction Battalion Center Port Hueneme is the West Coast homeport of the Navy’s Seabees . Port Hueneme , supports the training and mobilization requirements for more than 2,600 active-duty personnel. The CBC also operates Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme...

  • Amphibious Construction Battalion One
    Amphibious Construction Battalion One
    Amphibious Construction Battalion One is an amphibious construction battalion in the United States Navy based in Coronado, California. Amphibious Construction Battalion Two is its sister unit based in Little Creek, Virginia.-Mission :...

  • Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek#Major shore commands

Further reading

  • Huie, William Bradford
    William Bradford Huie
    William Bradford "Bill" Huie was an American journalist, editor, publisher, television interviewer, screenwriter, lecturer, and novelist.-Biography:...

    (1997). Can Do!: The Story of the Seabees (Bluejacket Books Series). Naval Institute Press.
  • Nichols, Gina (2007). The Seabees at Gulfport. Arcadia Publishing.
  • RADM Charles R. Kubic & James P. Rife (2009). Bridges To Baghdad, The US Navy Seabees in the Iraq War

External links

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