PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- The 30th Naval Construction Regiment (30th NCR) hosted Navy Seabees from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during a bilateral exchange between the two naval construction forces Oct. 13-22.
Key Philippine Seabee leaders in attendance included AFP's Naval Construction Brigade commander, Commodore Elmer Carrillo, commanding officers of naval combat engineering brigades, and other staff.
The engagement encompassed a broad range of U.S. Naval Construction Force capabilities throughout California, showcasing assets from Naval Base Ventura County, Fort Hunter Liggett and San Diego. The Philippine Seabees attended briefs and went on tours of Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1, 30th NCR, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3, Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 303, Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC), Civil Engineering Corps Officer Candidate School (CECOS), Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering (CSFE), Naval Facilities and Engineering Command (NAVFAC), Expeditionary Warfare Center (EXWC), and NAVFAC Southwest.
Members of NMCB 5 demonstrated their capabilities for the Philippine Seabees while conducting their field-training exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett. Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 demonstrated offload of cargo and amphibious landings with the Improved Navy Landing System (INLS) during Exercise Pacific Horizon 2015 at Camp Pendleton.
"It opened up awareness among the staff on the possibilities of how to enhance the capabilities of the Seabees and how it can best be applied to amphibious operations and support the Marines, and of course other aspects that will further improve the functions of the Seabees," Capt. Benito Ante, director, Philippines Naval Safety Office, said of the exercise.
The visit saw its beginnings in 2012, during travels by Capt. Rodney Moore, former commanding officer of 30th NCR. Ante, brigade operations officer at the time, expressed an interest to Moore in continuing previous exchanges that occurred between the two engineering forces in 2004 and 2009.
"During [Exercise] Balikatan it is usually the enlisted men who engage the U.S. enlisted men," said Ante. "But, when officers are able to engage the staff, it enhances coordination, [and] will facilitate and expedite collaboration during bilateral activities."
Exercise Balikatan, meaning "shoulder-to-shoulder" in Tagalog, is an annual bilateral exercise involving members of the AFP and U.S. armed forces. Its goals are to develop crisis action planning, train, promote interoperability, and conduct joint humanitarian and disaster relief projects.
Beyond Balikatan however, 30th NCR has a presence in the Philippines year-round, with currently ongoing schoolhouse and Philippines Department of Social Welfare and Development building projects on the island of Cebu (among others).
"The Philippines is a critical country for our strategic importance and we want to continue our key leader engagements so that when we operate in that theatre we have a great working relationship," said Cmdr. Roberto Alvarado, chief staff officer of 30th NCR.
Both Alvarado and Ante characterized the relationship between U.S. and Filipino Seabees as strong, amicable, and very open to discussion.
The 30th NCR provides operations control over naval engineering forces throughout the Pacific, Southwest Asia, and the western United States in response to combat commander and naval component commander requirements. They serve an integral part of the Naval Construction Force and accomplish major combat operations, theatre security cooperation, humanitarian assistance, disaster recovery, and phase zero requirements across the Pacific area of responsibility.
For more news from Naval Construction Group 1, visit www.navy.mil/local/ncg1/.