Construimus, Batuimus

If you need a tarmac built made out of steel in the middle of the South Pacific or a jacuzzi built in the middle of the Middle East with spare parts from a 72 Mustang then call the Seabees. The naval mobile construction battalions, NMCB’s often referred to as, are some of the most highly trained US Navy Sailors in the fleet.

The Seabee rates which consist of builder, construction electrician, construction mechanic, engineering aide, equipment operator, steelworker and utilitiesman are the the rates occupied by United States Navy Sailors proud to be able to call themselves Seabees.

If you want something build whether its an airstrip, forward observation base or strip the land of hundreds of yards and free it from debris to create an open firing area for US Marines then call in the Seabees.

Hit the Foo Gas!

The US Army Green Berets like any other branch also enjoyed the hard work and effort of protecting the troops. In Vietnam the Green Beret had walls, barriers, protection, wires and foo gas to protect them all built by US Navy Seabees. So when the Green Beret starring John Wayne had its Soldier call in the foo gas it came courtesy of US Navy Seabees.

“The difficult we do now, the impossible takes a little longer”

The US Navy SEALs and NAVSPECWARFARE have walked the walked and talked the talk for decades with their “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday.” The United States Navy SEABEES have a few of their own which have served them well since their inception in 1942.

10 Seabee Facts – Would you like to know more?

Did you know March 5th marks the 75th anniversary of the Seabees?? Celebrate it with us! Seabees young and old are celebrating the birthday of this unique organization; here are 10 wonderful facts you probably didn’t know about the Navy’s Seabees, who can fight!

The birth date of the United States Navy Seabee’s is honored on March 5 and goes all the way back to 1942. The U.S. Navy has employed an elite group of construction battalion Sailors, better known as Seabees. Determined and proud and filled with generations of honor and tradition their motto, “We Build, We Fight,” over the past 75 years the Seabees have served in all major American engagements, conflicts, wars with supported humanitarian efforts, and helped to build communities and assist nations around the globe. Even when not engaged in war, the Seabees build and maintain American military facilities around the globe. In addition, they provide engineering and construction support to other U.S. military branches, government agencies and many friendly nations.

1 Rear Admiral Ben Moreell  is the father of the Seabees.

After America’s entrance into World War 2 with the Empires Of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the demand for a militarized Naval Construction Force to build advance bases in the war zone became self-evident. It was then that US Navy Rear Admiral Ben Moreell became determined to activate, organize, and Sailor up with Navy construction units. It was then on Dec. 28 1941, only weeks after Pearl Harbor that he requested specific authority to move forward with this decision, and on Jan. 5, 1942, he received authority from the Bureau of Navigation to recruit men from the building and construction trades for reporting to a Naval Construction Regiment made up of three Naval Construction Battalions.

2 On March 5, 1942, Construction Battalions (CBs) receive a name!

It was 75 years ago this year the diamond anniversary of World War Two, “CBs” were given official permission to assume the what would become the famous name of Seabees. March 5th would become the approved date to celebrate the annual anniversary of their cadre.

Logo celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Seabees.
Logo celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Seabees.

3 The official motto of the US Navy Seabees is Construimus, Batuimus.

That is latin for,”We Build, We Fight.” Designed by Admiral Moreell, it’s at the core and essence of why the Seabees were created AND what roles they perform. A fighting force of men and women engineering and construction trades, the Seabees have been deployed all over the world to every theater, building bases, laying down and building airfields, conducting underwater construction on a variety of platforms, and building roads, bridges and other support facilities in cities, jungles, urban and rural environments.

4 Did you know that Seabees helped build the Boulder Dam?

Right out of the gate the fast moving and highly focused first recruits of the Seabees were the men who had helped to build the famous Boulder Dam, the national highway systems, and New York’s skyline with its famous skyscrapers; cleared the way for New York cities legendary submarine system by working in the mines and quarries and dug the tunnels from its inception. They worked in the naval shipyards building docks and wharfs, berms and even sea going liners and massive aircraft carriers. Little do most people know that by the end of the Second World War, 325,000 such Sailors had enlisted in the Seabees.

Navy recruiting poster: "Enlist Now" Caption: "Enlist Now, advanced rates to qualified construction men. SEABEES. See your Navy recruiter today," 1968.
Navy recruiting poster: “Enlist Now, advanced rates to qualified construction men. SEABEES. See your Navy recruiter today,” 1968.

5 The very first Seabee unit was known as the Bobcats.

Right after Admiral Ernest King requested the military’s War Plans Division recommend a naval base to establish a fueling station in the South Pacific, BuDocks developed the 1st Naval Construction Detachment, or referred to as the first Seabee unit, known as the Bobcats for this specific island’s code name. If you want to know more about their establishment? Visit the two-part blog series about Code Name BOBCAT.

6 During World War 2, Seabees made their mark on both sides of the world!

The World War 2 Seabees performed now incredible deeds in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of military operation. Commonly thought of as having only fought in the Pacific they did cross into the European Continent. At a substantial cost of almost $11 billion and numerous casualties, they built in excess of over 400 advanced bases along five important roads to victory which all had their start in the continental United States.

7 During D-Day of the Normandy invasion, the Seabees were among the first to go ashore.

The Storm From Seabee Hill. Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Mitchell Jamieson; 1944.
The Storm From Seabee Hill. Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Mitchell Jamieson; 1944.

Normandy set the start of the invasion of Europe to caste out Germans from France and the rest of the European countries and though it was the culmination of Seabee efforts that led to the North Atlantic road and the Normandy invasion operations in that area first started as early as March of 1942. 

During D-Day of the Normandy invasion, Operation Overlord, on June 6, 1944, the Seabees were part of the first to go ashore as Sailors of naval combat demolition units. Working with U.S. Army engineers, their critical role was to destroy the and clear steel and concrete barriers that the German army had built both in the water and on the beaches to forestall any amphibious landings.

8 The Seabees are Hollywood stars! Not just John Wayne!

Are you John Wayne? Is it me? Well, “star” may be reaching, but they were the central focus of a major Hollywood motion picture! Another pinnacle of Seabee history was in the making during the war years in 1943 — but the location of the set was Hollywood and not the South Pacific. Produced in 1943 and released in early 1944, the motion picture “The Fighting Seabees“, starring John Wayne and Susan Hayward, made “Seabee” a household word during the latter part of the war. We still see the film today on YouTube and other outlets on the internet.

Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Standish Backus; 1956;
Mid-Summer Scene, McMurdo Sound, by Standish Backus; 1956.

9 Seabees and penguins are Blue Noses!

Starting in 1955, Seabees began deploying yearly to the frozen continent of Antarctica. As active participants in Operation “Deep Freeze,” their mission was to build and expand scientific bases located on the frozen continent. You know those little white huts we often enjoy seeing in movies from Aliens Verses Predator, The Thing by John Carpenter and the X-Files as some alien super starship slowly moves over the frozen waste land as it leaves Earth orbit.

Blue Nose US Navy Custom Engraved Challenge Coin

So what do Seabees do well above all things? They build runways. The first “wintering over” party had 200 US Navy Seabees who distinguished themselves by building a 6,000-foot ice runway on McMurdo Sound. Despite nasty weather with a blizzard which destroyed the project and a few cold penguins and polar bears, the airstrip was completed just in time for the advance party of Deep Freeze II to become the first humans to arrive at the South Pole by airplane.

10 Marvin Shields was the first Seabee to receive the Medal Of Honor.

United States Navy Seabee Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. He was not only the first Seabee to receive the nation’s highest award but Marvin Shields was also the first US Navy Sailor to be so decorated for action in Vietnam. The destroyer escort USS Marvin Shields (DE 1066) was named in his honor.

(DE 1066) Running trials in the Pacific Ocean on 24 February 1971. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.
USS Marvin Shields
(DE 1066) Running trials in the Pacific Ocean on 24 February 1971. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Navy Seabees have been an instrumental part of operations not just accomplishing incredible engineering feats with the US Navy but working in tandem with the United States Marine Corps as well. We dedicate to their incredible accomplishments and on this 75th Anniversary of the Second World War with original Seabee artwork found on US Navy challenge coins.