CHINHAE, Korea (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 arrived at Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae (CFAC) in Chinhae, Korea, in early August.
NMCB 1, stationed in Gulfport, Miss., is on a routine deployment to Korea.
Several Seabees from NMCB 1 headed to their largest area of deployment in Okinawa, Japan.
For this small group of 26 Seabees, there was a quick turnover with the previous detachment from NMCB-40, and then it was time to set off to work on their two major projects. One project includes expanding an already existing warehouse, the other is building a sports complex for service members and their families stationed on CFAC.
"When the [sports complex] project is completed, it will be a really nice facility and top of the line," said Steelworker 2nd Class (SCW) James Branstietter. "It's meant to boost overall morale."
The other project, for which Branstietter is the project supervisor, is more logistical in nature. Rehabbing the warehouse is a critical component of future Seabee deployments. Turnovers between detachments usually require exchanges of project plans and turnover of tools left on the peninsula for all detachments.
The base requested the refurbishing of the warehouse to include enlarging storage areas and constructing office spaces. Both projects are scheduled to be completed in the February time frame, as NMCB-1's deployment ends.
The amount of work increases substantially when local vendors speak a different language, different electrical outputs and other cultural differences come into play. However, this all comes with the job, said Branstietter, and some situations are often humorous.
"We just had a situation where we were trying to explain that we need a specific type of hinge," said Branstietter. "An elbow hinge is pretty common, but we couldn't find a way to explain what it was, and we even resorted to taking a photo of it, but we couldn't get our local vendor to understand what we wanted. So now, we have one of the vendors driving over here so we can show them what we want in person. I'm sure it's used over here (in Korea), but trying to explain what we need is a challenge."
Other issues can be incredibly frustrating, said Branstietter, such as converting the electrical components to be in compliance with Korean systems and working with a metric system that is common to most other countries besides the United States. There is, however, a good mix of Seabees with different levels of experience working on the project.
"We have no middle ground here," said Branstietter. "Either this is a first-time deployment or the very last deployment with NMCB-1 for the members of our battalion, so everyone is either getting ready to transfer or just getting here."
This particular situation is unique, but can be of benefit to the Seabees deployed here at CFAC, said Branstietter. The experienced group assists with helping the newer group navigate the many obstacles.
Although there is much on the plate for the 26 Seabees deployed to CFAC, projects-wise, there is also plenty of time to get to know the Koreans.
"I'm looking forward to seeing this new culture," said Branstietter. "I've been to the Middle East, but this is the first time I've been out in the Far East. I'm looking forward to seeing it."
The detachment of Seabees includes eight different rates, however only nine Seabees are directly working on the warehouse project: four builders, one engineering aide, two steelworkers, a construction electrician and a utilitiesman.
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