NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Two battalions of Navy Seabees will deploy to Afghanistan in coming months as part of the 30,000 additional U.S. forces deploying to the region.
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 will deploy from Port Hueneme, Calif., and NMCB 133 will deploy from Gulfport, Miss. Each NMCB contains about 580 Seabees.
Seabees are a vital enabler required for the buildup of additional troops in support of President Barack Obama's strategy in Afghanistan. The Seabees' mission is to help provide infrastructure such as bases, berthing facilities, roads and airfields for the increasing number of U.S. forces in country.
Both battalions will deploy by March, but may deploy as early as January. As part of their normal rotation cycle, NMCB 4 and NMCB 133 were originally scheduled for deployment in February. NMCB 133 was scheduled to go to Afghanistan, and NMCB 4 was originally scheduled to deploy to the Pacific region.
"Since World War II, the Seabees have supported the Marine Corps in every major conflict. This is our legacy, and we are proud to be part of this important mission," said Rear Adm. Mark Handley, Commander, First Naval Construction Division.
Both battalions had already completed their required homeport training in preparation for deployment.
"Our Seabee battalions receive extensive training in both construction and defensive skills, so this mission is exactly what we have traditionally trained for. Seabees have a vital role to play as they work to provide the infrastructure necessary to complete our country's objectives in Afghanistan," Handley said.
"After a successful homeport training cycle, NMCB 133 stands ready to answer the president's call to surge additional forces into Afghanistan," said Cmdr. Christopher Kurgan, commanding officer of NMCB 133. "We appreciate all the responsive support that we have received from across the Naval Construction Force to finalize our training and equipping. We also deeply appreciate the understanding and support of our families as they continue to sacrifice and allow us to answer our nation's call."
The deployment of these two battalions will require adjustments to the deployment schedule of other Seabee units. These adjustments are currently pending approval by the chief of naval operations.
Various vehicles, equipment, tools and materials are also being prepared to be shipped from Gulfport and Port Hueneme to support their mission. Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center (NFELC) and Seabee Readiness Group personnel are breaking out containers and preparing them for shipment from Gulfport, Miss., and Port Hueneme, Calif. Construction equipment is also being broken out from warehouses, de-preserved and operationally checked. This gear will be staged for shipment when it is ready. Some items will be shipped by air, but most will go by ship transport.
Many of the pieces of heavy construction equipment will be armored before they are deployed. NFELC has active contracts to armor construction equipment in Gulfport and Port Hueneme. Mobile Tactical Vehicle Replacements (MTVRs) are also being armored at other locations in California, North Carolina and Florida.
Troops are being outfitted with the latest in Personal Gear and Combat Equipment including ballistic protective eyewear, body armor, hydration systems, extreme cold weather gear and fire resistant clothing.
About 2,600 Seabees are currently deployed to about 20 different countries around the globe supporting a variety of humanitarian missions and contingency operations.
Seabees were among the first forces in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks to upgrade and repair airfields. Portions of two battalions have been deployed there since January 2009.
For more news from Commander, 1st Naval Construction Division, visit www.navy.mil/local/1ncd/.