Projects progress despite gunfire, CBR attacks

(by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael)

CAMP SHELBY, Miss (October 26, 2011) Construction projects are underway for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 as part of its field exercise (FEX).  Projects consist of a timber tower, a South-West Asian hut (SWA hut), and a bridge.  Each project is taking place in a different part of Camp Shelby where the battalion is undergoing a period of field training and evaluation prior to a major deployment. 

The 30-feet high timber tower is being built by a nine-person crew from NMCB 11’s Charlie Det.  According to Builder 1st Class, Jerma A. Cloude, the project’s crew leader, the crew has had to overcome some setbacks.  “Maneuverability is a big challenge do to the weight of the logs and the softness of the dirt, and it must be done very carefully,” said Cloude.  The crew is also awaiting an auger bit, which is a crucial piece of equipment for the tower project.   

All project crews must also respond to the simulated attacks conducted by 20th Seabee Readiness Group (SRG) played out in scenarios meant to test the Seabees’ combat readiness.  These attacks include indirect fire, small-arms fire, drive-by shootings, and chemical, biological, radiological (CBR) attacks in which 20-SRG deploys CS gas (a riot control agent commonly referred to as tear gas).  During CBR attacks Seabees must don their gas masks and CBR suits until the mission oriented protective posture (MOPP) level is reduced.  All of these conditions temporarily halt construction and slow overall progress.

Air Det is constructing a 16-feet by 32-feet SWA hut with a six-person crew.  In addition to the scenarios being played out in their camp, the crew has had to deal with electrical issues which denied them the use of their circular saw during the first day and a half of construction.  According to Builder 2nd Class Adam J. Hartman, project supervisor, the crew made good use of hand-saws to keep the project on schedule.

As its name suggests, Bridge Det is building a bridge.  The large steel structure has crew-members attempting to complete the project ahead of schedule with motivation, dedication, and hard work.  By all appearances, the crew has made quite a bit of progress despite the normal challenges of FEX.

In addition to those projects, a crew at forward operating base (FOB) 1 made a landing zone (LZ) for helicopters that may be required to quickly evacuate personnel with medical emergencies.  Additional crews set up a galley and shower facility.

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