Sailors seeking a career in the Equipment Operator (EO) rating are drawn from the Occupational Field of Constructionman. After completing Recruit training, future Equipment Operators attend the ten-week Class “A” Technical School at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. In addition to learning construction theory and skills, EO Sailors also undergo combat training to master the Seabee Common Core tasks involving small arms, explosives, first aid, disaster recovery, tactical defense, convoy operations, and other duties related to deployment at forward operating bases.

Graduates of the Class “A” school are likely to be assigned to either a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) or an Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB). The Navy’s NMCBs are stationed at two Naval Construction Battalion Centers (CBCs); one is located at Naval Base Ventura County, and the other is based in Gulfport, Mississippi. And as the mission of the Seabees quickly expanded following World War II to include disaster relief at both home and abroad, the two locations have proven to be a blessing for residents who lives in the areas surrounding them and a natural training ground where EO Sailors can put into practice the disaster recovery operations which they’ve been taught.

As Hurricane Camille approached the Southern United States in August of 1969, Seabees stationed at the CBC in Gulfport began making preparations to minimize storm damage and assist the civilian population in the aftermath of the hurricane’s landfall. Normal base electricity was cut off before the storm arrived, and several facilities were opened up to civilians who could not find appropriate shelter elsewhere. Nearly 50 portable generators were distributed by the Seabees before and after the storm to civil defense headquarters and other locations. They also distributed Naval field radios to police, civil defense authorities, and shelters and provided connectivity through the CBC’s radio headquarters.

Mississippi in general and Gulfport in particular were hammered ruthlessly by Camille. At the CBC, 90 percent of the buildings were severely damaged, 11 of 20 warehouses were completely destroyed, and just 4 out of 30 barracks were deemed inhabitable in the wake of the storm. In spite of this, the Seabees of MCB-121 set up a command post in Pass Christian and began rescue and cleanup operations, with Equipment Operators playing a major role in removing debris and wreckage. MCB-74, about to be deployed to Vietnam, undertook cleanup work in West Gulfport before heading to the war zone. In gratitude for the work Seabees did in the wake of the hurricane, Mississippi governor John Bell Williams proclaimed October 31, 1969 as Seabees Awards Day.

Located just 40 miles from the epicenter of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake in California, the Seabees at Port Hueneme were called upon by FEMA to erect a train platform and parking area at the Vincent Train Station south of Palmdale. As NCMB-40 carried out this assignment, personnel from the CBC provided much-needed relief t by delivering 32 water tanks to the Simi Valley City Hall and 23 water tanks to the city of Los Angeles; they also assisted FEMA with their expertise in administrating disaster relief operations.


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