PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 completed a 48-hour mount-out exercise (MOX) and 48-hour air detachment redeployment exercise on board Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, California, Sept. 30 – Oct. 4.
The exercises are graded unit-level training readiness assessments and are part of NMCB-3’s fleet response training plan.
Seabees worked day and night to simulate one of the core capabilities of an NMCB: the ability to deploy a task-tailored air detachment within 48 hours to support any mission required by a supported commander. These missions include major combat operations response and humanitarian aid/disaster relief.
The MOX required robust communication and attention to detail within the embarkation team; the department that provides the expertise and muscle behind any major movement.
“Communication can be a struggle,” said Ens. Diedrich Harms, from Bismarck, North Dakota, NMCB-3’s embarkation officer. “Being able to have clear message traffic enables the smooth flow of assets through the embarkation process, and it’s noticeable if it’s not working effectively. No matter how good we are, there can always be room to improve in this area.”
Over 100 Seabees worked around the clock in shifts to wash and move 43 units of civil engineering support equipment (CESE) and inventory and palletize supplies, including water, meals ready-to-eat, personnel gear issue and construction equipment. The Seabees then weighed and balanced the materials and meticulously logged the data to ensure the materials could be properly loaded into aircraft.
“The exercise can feel like a rush to get through within the 48-hour period, but our Seabees crushed it,” said Harms. “They worked extremely hard, applied great attention to detail and should be proud of their results.”
The days and nights of effort culminated in a joint inspection with Naval Construction Group 1. Evaluators determine the accuracy of the shipping documents, weight and size of equipment, and verify the operational condition and cleanliness of equipment and supplies – ensuring all flight requirements are met.
Following the 48-hour MOX, the clock resets and begins ticking again as NMCB-3’s air detachment begins a 48-hour air detachment redeployment exercise. This exercise simulates a deployed air detachment’s ability to pack up their personnel, CESE and supplies, and redeploy back to the battalion’s main body element without outside assistance.
After identifying the materials and equipment for re-deployment, the Seabees can’t simply load them as-is into an aircraft. Getting the equipment ready for liftoff consists of several evolutions and meticulous attention to detail.
“It was amazing to see how fast the process was from taking equipment from the Alfa Company yard to the construction mechanic shop, to the wash rack and back to the construction mechanic shop, and then to the embarkation yard for weighing and marking, to finally staging the units in their chalks for loading and making sure our records are in order,” said Lt. Jg. Zachary Schemmel, from Appleton, Wisconsin, NMCB-3’s air detachment assistant commander.
If any part of the redeployment process is overlooked or rushed, it can create a logjam that causes confusion and can send a piece of equipment back in its route to becoming fit for flight.
“When there’s a defined goal, it’s easy to try to meet it as fast as possible,” said Schemmel. “It’s important to remember that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. When you rush things, mistakes are made. Taking a little bit of extra time to double check your work, no matter how mundane, is very important because we mitigate mistakes and make sure that we meet every little piece that goes into the overall goal.”
Steelworker 1st Class Andrew Chase, from Chaplin, Connecticut, said the data tracking and documentation process was the most difficult aspect of the exercise as a load planner.
The data, consisting of the total weight, dimensions, hazardous materials and aircraft compatibility, is of great importance to load planners who input the information into a computer program called Sea Service Deployment Module to determine where each item will be placed in the military aircraft before the Seabees can stage the items. If these steps are not taken and the load is not properly planned, it could unbalance the aircraft and endanger the flight.
“Communication between each station and documentation was difficult in the beginning, but we developed a good flow,” said Chase. “When we finished, it was a relief. We had some stressful times, but I’m happy to say we pulled through.”
NMCB-3 is home-ported in Port Hueneme, California. Seabees are the expeditionary engineering and construction experts of the Naval service. They provide task-tailored, adaptable and combat-ready engineering and construction forces that deploy to support global Navy objectives.
For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb3/.