TINIAN—U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-3 assumed authority of all tasking from NMCB-5’s Detail Tinian during a relief in place/transfer of authority last June 29.
Seabees from NMCB-5 are finally going home after completing an extended deployment, and NMCB-3 Seabees stand ready to take over from their sister battalion and drive operations on the island. The lengthy stay on Tinian stemmed from the unforeseen coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which created a delay in efforts to return home due to stringent local, national, and international protective travel restrictions starting in late March.
Seabees from NMCB-3 deployed to Tinian to take over work for improvements to the island’s infrastructure while strengthening community relationships in the area. The Seabees will be working on building an expeditionary-style camp to support current and future deployed battalion efforts to improve a harbor and various roads throughout the island.
Travel restrictions were revisited in late May and NMCB-3 was given permission to relieve its sister battalion. After complementing one 14-day restriction of movement period prior to deployment in the U.S. and another ROM period in Guam, NMCB-3 reached Tinian soil in mid-June and worked with NMCB-5 to achieve an accurate and successful turnover to officially begin mission essential work on the island.
“After completing ROM requirements in California and Guam, we were eager to go out of the gate to get things done,” said Lt. j.g. Aaron Ignacio, officer-in-charge of NMCB-3’s Detail Tinian. “Attitudes were very positive between the battalions and we meshed really well with NMCB-5. We really did all we could to help push this turnover forward because they were ready to go and we were ready to get to work.”
After months of uncertainty, NMCB-5’s Detail Tinian was ready to turn over the reins.
Lt. Patrick Daniele, officer-in-charge of NMCB-5’s Detail Tinian, said his Seabees are proud of the construction and community relations work they have accomplished, and proud to have done all they could to set NMCB-3 up for success.
“We’re all now very excited to get back to our family and friends knowing that we made the best of the situation for the Island and for NMCB-3,” said Daniele.
With their deployment coming to a close, Seabees from NMCB-5 were able to reflect on the work they accomplished despite delays from COVID-19. NMCB-5’s role on the island of Tinian involved infrastructure improvement and community relations. They found they were able to accomplish more than expected in terms of the latter.
“When we first got out here, we had our tasking,” said Daniele, “but because of delays, we were able to get more involved in the community. We built a jungle gym at the children’s park and were involved in a lot of community-based projects. We received an award from Tinian’s Mayor’s Office as well as an emotional goodbye. The things we take for granted are huge and impactful here. As far as project tasking, we met what we could, and as far as community relationships go, we’ve excelled.”
When NMCB-3 Seabees arrived on scene, they knew accuracy and speed were equally important to get NMCB-5 back to their families in a timely manner while ensuring a solid foundation for NMCB-3 to get to work. Builder 2nd Class James Gilson, assigned to NMCB-3, echoed Ignacio’s eagerness to start off strong.
“Turnover went rather smoothly, and we were able to be ahead of schedule,” said Gilson. “We worked as quickly and efficiently as we could to get NMCB-5 home.”
NMCB-3 Seabees are happy to be back on Tinian. Last year, along with other U.S. Indo-Pacific Command units, NMCB-3 provided relief efforts after the island was devastated by Super Typhoon Yutu, which struck in late 2018. The Seabees were part of a roof-repair and recovery mission to restore many of the resident’s homes to habitable conditions.
Marcus Henley (Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3)