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NMCB 74 return to Gulfport from Horn of Africa

Family members and friends welcomed home approximately 151 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 who returned to the Naval Construction Battalion Center here Thursday from an eight-month deployment covering the Horn of Africa.

The Seabees who returned are from NMCB 74’s Detail Horn of Africa that deployed to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa.

On Dec. 6, 2010, the detail arrived at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, and immediately re-deployed smaller detachments to construction projects in Kontali Djibouti, Manda Bay Kenya and Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, as well as a water well crew to Ethiopia. Throughout the AOR, each team ranged in size from 10 to 30 Seabees and successfully accomplished 13,180 man days of projects, ranging from engineering assessments, camp improvements, providing water wells to local villages, and constructing multiple concrete school facilities.

Lt. Bobby Kendall, officer-in-charge of NMCB 74 Det. HOA said: “The significant success and praise the DET enjoyed is in large part due to the efforts of the construction team Mission Commanders. These First and Second Class Petty Officers were responsible for every aspect of their assigned mission’s success. Most had never operated with such a high level of responsibility and authority before but each Seabee rose to the challenge and performed admirably.

“DET HOA had a very successful deployment and was an invaluable asset to CJTF-HOA. Our relevant skills and expertise, responsive ability to flex with constantly changing operational requirements, work on a “fire and forget” basis despite significant challenges, and, most importantly, complete time-critical, quality construction projects on schedule were a force enhancer to CJTF-HOA operations.”

The work did not come easily and the detail had to overcome many obstacles along the way. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the deployment was the geographical dispersion of the detail's construction teams; by the end of deployment, Detail HOA Seabees had completed projects at 28 different locations throughout Africa.

This dispersion affected almost all aspects of the DET’s operations. Airlift delays were a constant challenge, there were persistent material shortfalls, having to rely on unreliable local commercial transportation, and dealing with long-lead times for items from stateside; extremely hot weather, rocky and poor road conditions, and other environmental factors imposed physical hardships. All these issues attempted to chip away at the detail's ability to execute projects on schedule, but the construction teams proved to be resourceful and innovative in addressing problems and being proactive in working with supported and adjacent forces.

Water Wells

The NMCB-74 water well team was charged with the completion of the Dire Dawa, Ethiopia Regional Water Project.

All three wells that were executed by NMCB 74 required coordination, followed by relocation, with the district water managers because the duration between nomination and execution was at least two years. Therefore, the local demand shifted and district water managers implemented plans expecting that the well tasking would not actually come to fruition. However, NMCB 74 was able to coordinate with the district water managers, local village leaders, CJTF-HOA and the Embassy to agree on new well locations.

NMCB 74 built wells in the village Jedane, Garmam and the village of Billa, opening the wells on Feb. 11, June 28 and July 19, respectively. The water well crew expended a total of 1,194 man days on water well drilling operations.

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