LOME, Togo -- Seabees assigned to U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 Detail Togo are conducting special construction partnering missions with host nation military engineers in support of African Partnership Stations 2012.
The mission of African Partnership Stations is to conduct theater security cooperation (TSC) through a continuum of activities designed to advance maritime security in Africa. Combined Task Force 68 and NMCB 1 are supporting this effort using a task tailored detachment to contribute to the economic prosperity and security on land through humanitarian civil assistance projects with the host nation military engineers.
NMCB 1 was deployed in early August to the small West African nation of Togo, taking over the mission from NMCB 3. Their mission is the continued renovation of the C.E.G. Totsi primary school in Lome, as well as partnering with the Togolese Military Engineers. Renovations to the school will include installation of a new metal roof, renovation of the roof support structure, replacement of the electrical system, as well as stucco and door installation.
The Seabees of NMCB 1 must face numerous challenges to complete their mission. Time is limited and the renovations must be completed before the start of the new school year in late September. More challenging are the materials and construction standards in West Africa that are substantially different than in the United States. Often common materials found on similar construction projects back home are unavailable, and translating the nomenclature to French simply adds to the challenge. This is perhaps their greatest obstacle, as the crewmembers work with the host military and local vendors through their translator to come up with innovative solutions for old-world problems.
Despite these challenges, “The First and The Finest” are embracing their mission and integrating with the host nation military during the renovation. The Seabees and local engineers work together to mix and apply stucco to the exterior of the school while another part of the team removes the existing roof, repairs and replaces existing roof trusses and rafters with their carpenters. Work moves rapidly despite the language barrier between the Seabees and Togolese.
Project supervisor, Builder 1st Class (SCW) Donnell Rogers, talked about the chance to work with the host nation. “I'm proud to be a part of the Navy and NMCB 1's increased footprint around the world. This project gives you a chance to better your construction skills by learning new techniques from the engineers of these countries.”
NMCB 1 is currently deployed to 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR) in support of construction operations throughout Europe and Africa.