MORONI, Comoros Islands (NNS) -- Seabees assigned to Detail Comoros completed construction of the Hamramba School in Moroni, Comoros, June 24, the first major Seabee construction project in the Comoros Islands.
Seabees worked countless days in 120-plus degree heat indexes to ensure the successful completion of the Hamramba School, a humanitarian project that is sure to have a lasting impact for decades to come.
"This was an outstanding team effort and partnership with the local military and government of Comoros," said Chief Builder Hippolito Quiles, mission commander for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 Detachment Horn of Africa project in the Comoros Islands.
"The teamwork and hard work to make this project a success was truly impressive."
NMCB 7 was tasked with the completion of two 300-square meter concrete masonry unit (CMU) block school buildings with three separate classrooms each. In addition, the Seabees were tasked with constructing a 25-square meter male and female latrine facility to include associated electrical and plumbing finish work. The entire project began four NMCB deployments ago, with NMCB 7 completing the final 15 percent.
The capital city of Moroni, located on the Grande Comore Island, is the largest city in the Comoros Islands and is known for its beautiful beaches and tropical rain forest climate.
Being a smaller self sufficient island, the typical construction methods that Seabees regularly use were not available to the detachment.
"Working on a project with numerous challenges, as well as the prevalent language barrier between us and the local military assisting, provided a level of difficulty that many of the young Seabees here have never dealt with," said Quiles.
Upon arriving at the site, Seabees immediately went to work, occasionally using methods that even more experienced Seabees have never used. For instance, concrete batch plants were nonexistent; instead the Seabees mixed all their concrete by hand. Even equipment such as pump trucks, vehicles used to assist in more difficult concrete pours, were not an option.
After hand-mixing their concrete, the crew had to use two-gallon buckets and wheel barrels to transfer the material to the actual area of placement.
"This was the toughest project that I have encountered since joining the battalion" said Equipment Operator Constructionman Thomas Welker. The austere location of the project provided many of the crew a chance to learn all facets of construction techniques. Steelworkers mixed concrete, mechanics were operating the equipment they typically fix, and electricians were placing finishing work. This display of camaraderie helped the Seabees complete the project on time.
The Hamramba School was officially completed May 12, 2010. A ceremony, to commemorate the school completion, was held on site. In attendance were Comorian President Ahmed Abdallan Mohamed Sambi and Rear Adm. Brian Losey, commander of Combined Task Force-Horn of Africa. Many city residents attended the ceremony, including a local school choir that sang the Comorian national anthem. Local government officials, Niels Marquadt, U.S. ambassador to the Comoros and Madagascar, and Losey delivered speeches during the ceremony.
In his speech, Marquadt thanked the Seabees for their work and the legacy they will leave behind.
"This school is certainly a privileged place for the education of our children," Sambi said.
Music played and people cheered as the Sambi toured the completed buildings for final approval.
NMCB 7 and its detachments are currently deployed to various locations throughout Europe and Africa as part of the battalion's regularly scheduled 2010 deployment, with the main body of the battalion operating from Camp Mitchell at Naval Station Rota, Spain.
NCMB 7 is homeported at the Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Miss., home of the Atlantic Fleet Seabees, and is currently a Battle "E" Seabee battalion.
For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb7/.