Story by PO2 Stephane Belcher on 08/30/2019Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 completed a 48-hour mount-out exercise (MOX) on board Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme, California.
The exercise demonstrated NMCB-5's ability to deploy a task-tailored air detachment within 48 hours in support of a Major Combat Operations (MCO) response or Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief (HA/DR).
"Embarking a construction force for emergencies is one of the oldest missions Seabees complete," said Equipment Operator 1st Class Matthew Beckham, from Farmington, New Mexico, the embark yard's port (day) shift watch chief. "It's part of the Seabee's heritage, like runway repair."
The MOX begins with simulated scenarios pulled from current MCOs to potential and previous HA/DR experiences. In this case, the battalion received orders to mount out and support Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific, which was affected by a tropical cyclone.
NMCB-5's air detachment and the embark team worked day and night demonstrating their craft, while remaining engaged and productive, throughout the exercise. They collected materials, washed civil engineer support equipment, inventoried and palletized items from water and meals ready-to-eat, to tools and construction supplies, weighed and balanced the materials, and logged all the data and calculations to ensure the aircraft would be loaded properly.
Ensign Yaravi Lopez-Wilson, the watch officer in the Mount Out Control Center (MOCC) explained that the MOX confirms that all Seabees are ready to deploy, from clergy representation and hospital corpsman to the construction workers.
"Training people properly is a big part of what we do," said Lopez-Wilson. "It's not just [air detachment and the embark team], it's all departments working together."
The team members worked together at each step by communicating and logging the status of moving, washing, and weighing the equipment.
"There's a lot of communications and flow of traffic issues to overcome," said Beckham. "Everyone has to do their part expediently for it to flow. One break in the change can slow everyone else down."
There are several different teams working together that are dependent on each other. When one finishes the next one can begin.
"All of the departments collaboratively come together to say who goes on this team," said Lopez-Wilson. "Every single one of the team members are critical."
The exercise was complete after the final joint inspection between Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1 and NMCB-5. During the joint inspection NCG-1 verifies the shipping documents, the operational condition of the equipment, and cleanliness of gear. Then verifies details such as the weight and size of equipment on the load plans, and confirms all flight requirements are met six hours prior to departure.
"I think it's rewarding to see it all come together at the end, and to have a joint inspection with very minimal hits," said Beckham. "It's proving the capabilities to the construction force itself and proving that the battalion can do it. It's also proving to ourselves that we're capable of doing it. When we succeed it builds confidence. It builds confidence in the embark team, and in the battalion."
NMCB-5 is currently homeported in Port Hueneme, California. The Seabees assigned to NMCB-5 support worldwide combat and contingency operations, building advanced bases, supporting various construction projects, and conducting humanitarian recovery missions.