IWAKUNI, Japan - Demolition, construction and maintenance are some of the things which may come to mind when one thinks of Navy Seabees, the backbone of U.S. Naval construction.
For Seabees stationed here, their role is complex and multilayered, but on a lesser scale.
“It’s a small community of Seabees here,” said Chief Petty Officer Gerald A. Rawlins, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron
facilities maintenance chief. “There are two divisions of Seabees. There are those attached to H&HS facilities and those in the
Resident Officer in Charge of Construction office.”
Seabees have seven positions and rates they fill. They are construction mechanics, builders, electricians, equipment operators,
construction electricians, steel workers and engineering aides.
Seabees attached to H&HS often an auxiliary role, providing assistance to barracks residents whenever they encounter problems.
Some of those issues can be minute such as a broken light bulb to more costly, such as a broken washer or dryer.
“A lot of what we do with facilities is in emergencies in the barracks like when a washer or dryer breaks down,” said Seaman Joshua
A. Silva, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron utilities constructionman. “Seabees can get anything done, no matter what it is if someone needs it done.”
One of the drawbacks to being part of a much smaller unit is not taking part in larger projects associated with what Seabees are primarily known for.
“We’re kind of out of our element,” said Rawlins.
“(Servicemembers) are so used to seeing us doing larger-scale construction. Here we’re such a small force, that we don’t get to do what we’re trained to do as often. It’s similar to a Marine who can’t shoot.”
Constantly constructing and putting together large-scale projects, such as runways and forward operating bases, is the Seabees true bread-and-butter.
“I helped start on the construction of Camp Leatherneck,” said Rawlins. “It was Camp Bastion before, when it was just dust.”
Though this station isn’t Camp Leatherneck by any stretch, the Seabees find ways to put their skills to use by performing demolition duties in construction projects.
On Feb. 15, station Seabees and heavy equipment operators from Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 took part in demolishing
a section of fence near the current construction site of the future commercial air terminal right off the station using two John Deere TRAM 624KR Tractor, Rubber Tired, Articulated Steering, Multipurpose vehicles.
The purpose of removing the fence was to make more room for the growing air terminal project.
“It was nice to work alongside (MWSS)-171,” said Silva. “It was a good opportunity for them as well to get some training in with their equipment. They helped to speed up our project time by weeks and we’re really appreciative of that.”