BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORY, Diego Garcia - Since their arrival in 1971, Seabees have been developing the remote island of Diego Garcia into the U.S. Navy communications station it is today. Now a large-scale, fully functional Naval Support Facility, Diego Garcia continues to benefit from the hard work and expertise of Seabees.
With the first battalion arriving by ship, the Seabees immediately began construction on vital operational facilities such as a 3,500 foot airstrip, troop housing, water and electrical systems, dining, laundry, refrigeration and other storage facilities.
Today Seabees still maintain a constant and welcomed presence on the island in the form of permanently assigned sailors and rotational details from naval mobile construction battalions operating in the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations.
Currently, 20 Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 are nearing the completion of a 16-room, apartment-style building complete with all appliances. The building will greatly improve the living conditions and effectiveness of permanently assigned personnel that provide mission support to the island. According to the project supervisor, Construction Electrician 2nd Class Lucas Gaige, the unique project provides the crew an opportunity to learn new skills and increase the readiness of both the individual Seabees and their battalion.
“It’s a great learning experience for us all to step out of our comfort zones and take charge,” said Gaige. “We have been eager to get going and continue building on the island’s Seabee legacy,”
Despite scorching temperatures and daily rain, the crew has already completed one concrete masonry wall and made great progress on a second wall. The team’s electricians and plumbers are running rough electrical wires and preparing plumbing for the hydrostatic pressure tests designed to ensure there are no leaks in the water lines.
The crew’s safety representative Builder 3rd Class Lauralie Gutschmidt said getting the metal roof on the building is the biggest challenge yet.
“Most of the crew members have never installed a roof quite like this,” said Gutschmidt. “They have had to adapt to not only using different construction methods, but also a very different form of fall protection. It has proven to be a learning experience for all, but once complete, construction will be able to continue rain or shine.”
NMCB 74 relieved NMCB 40 in July and is currently executing theater security cooperation, construction civic action detail and construction readiness projects across the PACOM area of operations.