DILI, Timor-Leste (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines attended the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for a community center in the Fatuhada district of Dili, Timor-Leste, June 24.
More than 100 personnel, including personnel from the U.S. Embassy and the Australian and Timor-Leste military, saw the official ceremony.
The community center was part of Exercise Crocodilo, a Marine Corps exercise conducted by the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
The community center will be used as a gathering place for community's leaders to discuss issues, a future English language school and a youth center.
"Thank you very much for the building and everything you have done," said Suco-Chief Marcelino Soares during his remarks at the ribbon cutting.
The community center was chosen for Exercise Crocodilo because the former U.S. Ambassador, Hans Klemm, had been working with the Fatuhada Suco-Chief, Marcelino Soares, on ways the U.S. Embassy could give back to the local community. It is part of a growing cooperation between the U.S. Embassy and the Fatuhada community that surrounds it.
"We hope that this will be become a permanent symbol of friendship between the United States and the Timorese people," stated John Hennick, charge d'affair, U.S. Embassy, at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Exercise Crocodilo is the second Marine Corps exercise in Timor Leste since 2009.
Exercise Crocodilo 2010 involved Marines from the 15th MEU and Sailors from the Peleliu Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG), who arrived in Dili June 20. The main focus of their visit was joint military training with the Falintil-Foras de Defesa de Timor Leste (F-FDTL) and International Stabilisation Force. The community center was an engineering civil action project for the Marines and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 Detaile Timor-Leste Seabees.
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Exercise Crocodilo was represented by Capt. Dale Fuller, commander, Peleliu ARG and Marine Col. Roy Osborne, commander, 15th MEU.
NMCB 11's Detail Timor-Leste is the third Naval Mobile Construction Battalion to be deployed to Timor-Leste but is the first battalion to do new, ground up construction. The community center was a test of the Seabee's skills and adaptability. The construction of the community center was also aided by members of the ISF and F-FDTL.
Unforeseen soil conditions were the major problem that hampered the early stages of its construction. The Seabees, with the help of Australian engineers quickly decided on the use of geo-textile fabric to help strengthen the soil, to support the new building. With the soil situation taken care of, the building went up without any more significant issues. To help complete the project, 25 Marines from the 15th MEU painted the building and cleaned up the surrounding area.
"This was a joint effort among friends," said John Hennick, charge d'affair, U.S. Embassy, speaking about the detachment of Seabees, Marines, ISF and F-FDTL and their construction of the community center.
For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb11/.