U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS (NNS) -- From Feb. 22-April 1, 2015, Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 Detachment Bahrain, teamed up with Marines to construct six Southwest Asia (SWA) Huts at a U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forward operating site in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The flight area of the CENTCOM forward operating site needed expanded facilities to support around-the-clock preparations for air combat sorties supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military effort against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. Required improvements included a pilot ready room, a preventative maintenance repair facility and an ordnance ready point for the aircraft ammunition: bombs and missiles.
To meet this need, the Seabees and Marines constructed six SWA-Huts and adaptable 16-foot by 32-foot wood-framed "hooches" widely used by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War. The SWA-Huts were prefabricated at the public works builder shop to maximize efficiency and minimize impact to flight operations.
Seabees then used heavy equipment to line-haul the trusses and wall framing to the flight line. Engineering Aide Constructionman Kerrick Downes worked with the flight line master plan to identify the best location for the proposed facilities. There was just enough room for the SWA-Huts to be erected.
For Seabees, SWA-Hut construction is a routine project, however, most of the construction was tasked to Marines assigned to a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF).
The majority of the Marines had little to no experience with carpentry or construction. Seabee Builder 3rd Class Patrick Hughey, Builder Constructionman Evelyn Christie and Builder Constructionman Rosalind Bonenberger provided instruction, oversight and technical on-the-job training to the Marines throughout construction and erection of the facilities.
The SPMAGTF developed a multitude of new skills, while junior Seabees had the opportunity to lead Marines as project supervisors and project safety managers.
The joint construction project fostered camaraderie and understanding between the branches of service.
"Before this project I hadn't considered why we have such a sense of urgency in constructing what seemed like everyday facilities to us," said Builder Constructionman 3rd Class Patrick Hughey. "After working with the Marines and observing their day-to-day operations on the flight line, I really understood how our projects fit into the larger operational picture. We may just see them as more SWA-Huts, but to someone else they're a mission-essential operational hub."
Both branches of service gained experience and knowledge that will benefit future operations and continued building on the longstanding relationship between Seabees and Marines.
"The SWA-Huts really benefited my Marines by giving them an opportunity to learn construction procedures for structures that the Marines generally have no experience in building," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Schrepfer of the SPMAGTF. "This project provided them with key carpentry skills that they can carry on to their next task, benefitting their operational components as well as their own personal careers."
The construction was completed on a tight schedule and the new SWA-Huts have significantly increased airfield response time by providing new facilities to support combat flight operations.
NMCB-11 is a Naval Construction Force battalion specializing in contingency construction, disaster response and humanitarian assistance. The battalion's homeport is in Gulfport, Miss.
NMCB-11 is currently forward deployed to multiple locations in support of U.S. Africa Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command, and U.S. Pacific Command areas of responsibility.
For more news from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmcb11/.