US Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 completed Exercise TURNING POINT statewide from July 26 to August 20.
The field training exercise required NMCB-3 to establish a task force on San Clemente Island where it would exercise control over task units, smaller groups assigned to specific engineering missions to task force support, at Camp Pendleton, Fort Hunter Liggett, Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake and Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Exercise TURNING POINT was designed to challenge the Seabees to build operational infrastructure and expeditionary facilities to simulate the establishment of Forward Naval Bases (ANB) to support Forward Expeditionary Base Operations (EABO). EABO involves the employment of mobile, low-signature, persistent, and relatively easy to maintain and maintain naval expeditionary forces from temporary locations in a contested maritime area to prohibit the sea, support control of the sea, or allow maintaining the fleet. ANBs are temporary bases established in or near an operational area where the primary mission is to support fleet operations such as EABO.
The exercise scenario is new to the Pacific Seabees Fleet from past field training exercises, but has been redesigned to more closely reflect the challenges they will face in their area of responsibility during a deployment in the Indo-Pacific region.
“This exercise has determined that we are technically and tactically proficient and ready to deploy wherever we are called,” said Cmdr. LaKeeva Gunderson, commanding officer of NMCB-3. “We had challenges and we were very successful in overcoming them. They were numerous and difficult, that’s what we wanted, but we achieved our goals every time without fail. Our young leaders stepped up to make decisions that enabled us to find other ways to solve problems and achieve mission. In addition, our leaders had to make deliberate risk decisions that continued to drive our projects and mission forward. This is the purpose of the exercise. “
At the battalion’s main body on San Clemente Island, Seabees, with an attachment from Marines from 7th Engineer Support Battalion (ESB), established an ANB perimeter and security, set up a headquarters tactical and tactical operations center to secure communications with higher headquarters, set up a battalion aid station; gallley; and showers and laundry facilities to define the conditions of construction tasks. The Seabees executed the construction of ten Southwest Asian huts, 20 tent decks with general-purpose modular tent systems, placed nearly 100 cubic meters of concrete for road repairs, and began construction of a concrete slab 150 feet by 150 feet for the vertical take-off and landing.
At Camp Pendleton, Seabees drove 100 linear feet of sheet piling to repair an existing quay wall in the Del Mar boat basin. At Fort Hunter Liggett, they constructed a 20 foot by 60 foot prefabricated building and drilled an oil well. 600 foot water capable of producing 60 gallons per minute and 86,000 gallons per day. At NAWS China Lake, they performed maintenance and construction of ground communication lines while conducting blasting and quarry crushing operations. At Vandenberg Space Force Base, Seabees worked with Marine Wing Support Squadron 372 and 7th ESB Marines to repair damage to the airfield consisting of 15 craters and 60 shards, a 200 foot by 85 foot concrete runway extension and road repairs.
The NMCB-3 has acquired a wealth of exercise experience, particularly in air and sea navigation in logistical obstacles. The Seabees conducted detailed planning to use civil engineering support equipment, military aircraft and barges to move personnel and materials to remote locations.
“Planning is paramount when conducting distributed operations,” said Lt. Reece Comer, NMCB-3 operations officer. “Solving the logistical challenges of getting supplies and equipment to an island isn’t something you can fully understand until you actually do it – and we did. Critical and original thinking is paramount when performing these types of missions with limited materials, equipment, and personnel. Therefore, Seabee’s ingenuity will be an invaluable resource for operations in the Pacific. “
Additionally, operations on San Clemente Island and on the Vandenberg Space Force base had a dual purpose of not only performing maritime construction tasks, but also training marine tactics and construction skills. Seabee to increase the efficiency of the Navy-Marine Corps.
“It gave us the opportunity to not look at what the Marines and Seabees can do together on paper and get our here and put it into practice,” said 1st Lt. Anthony Sposato, who leads a team. of the 7th ESB Marines in San L’île Clémente. “The Marines gained a lot of vertical construction experience and engineering expertise, while we were able to teach the Seabees what we can do tactically to build a stronger team. In the future, each fight will be a joint fight, and this will allow us to better prepare for it because without training the capability, we lose the effectiveness of interoperability. “
Field training exercises require NMCBs to work around the clock to complete construction tasks, self-sufficiency and maintain security while under constant duress from assailants attempting to disrupt operations and outsmart the Seabees’ mission. Exercise TURNING POINT took these variables up a notch with increased realism, logistics and communication challenges, and interoperability to prepare NMCB-3 to stand ready to build, support, deliver and maintain ANBs and EABO in support of US objectives in the Indo-Pacific. .
One of the first battalions to service at the start of WWII, the NMCB-3 has the ability to build and fight anywhere in the world as a full battalion or as a group of autonomous detachments performing simultaneously critical engineering and construction missions.
NMCB-3 is brought home to Port Hueneme, California. Seabees are the naval service’s expeditionary engineering and construction experts. They provide task-responsive, adaptable, combat-ready engineering and construction forces that deploy to support Navy objectives around the world.