By Buddy Blouin
From the outside looking in, the military is the military. But once you take a closer look, you soon realize just how many moving pieces go into making the American Armed Forces operate. A major part of that is realizing that the military is a giant construction project. Since World War II, the Seabees have been a major contributor in completing such initiatives for the U.S. Navy. To be a Seabee means to live by the group’s motto Construimus, Batuimus ("We build, We fight"). These battalions continue to put their engineering prowess to use by serving American interests and ensuring successful missions that last the test of time all around the globe.

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What Are Seabees?

A Seabee primarily refers to someone in one of the United States Naval Construction Battalions, but it can also refer to all enlisted personnel in the USN's occupational field 7 (OF-7) and the Naval Construction Force (NCF). Seabees have worked as a part of other units, including Acorns, Cubs, Lions, and even the U.S. Marine Corps. Today, over 7,000 active members with nearly 7,000 Reserves all work together to deliver on construction projects contrived from the needs of the U.S. Navy around the world.

What Does Seabees Stand For?

When you look at the semantics involved with the Seabees, it becomes quickly apparent that this nickname is a play on words, or rather, in this case, letters. The formal name of the group is the United States Naval Construction Battalions. If you look at the final two words in the title, you’ll notice that they start with the letters “C” and “B.” Furthering the fun references found within the group includes the Seabees' logo, known as the Fighting Bee. Designed by Frank Iafrate, the logo features a bee equipped with a weapon and tools. Below, the alternative motto “Can Do!” is presented showing the worker bee can-do attitude of the battalion. This takes us to the sea and bee aspect, which should be very apparent by now, and combines the aspects of being a seaworthy Sailor with the working mindset of bees. But as interesting as this all is, there would be no “bees” without another interesting unit that helped found the group. However, these weren’t bees; they were Bobcats.

Bobcats in Bora Bora?

Understandably, there are a lot of animals to keep up with, but this connection isn’t as farfetched as it may seem on the surface. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, history changed forever. For America, for the Pacific, and for the world. The need for military personnel of all sorts was immediate, as was the need for military infrastructure in a global war. Operation Bobcat was a joint Army-Navy task force sent to Bora Bora to construct a fueling base for the Navy in French Polynesia. Forever known as Bobcats, as part of the 3,500 service men sent to the Pearl of the Pacific, these actions in 1942 are what would fuel an engineering and construction program that continues to serve the American Armed Forces today.

Are Seabees Special Forces?

While an elite group of engineers, Seabees aren’t considered special forces in the way we generally classify them by modern-day definitions. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t making major, specialized contributions to the U.S. military (because they are). Furthermore, an interesting origin story of another group of special forces involves the Navy Seabees, as the first Navy SEALs came from the group.

Do Seabees See Combat?

Construction may be the focus of Seabees in the Navy, but it’s important to put that work into perspective with the job at hand. When it comes to construction to assist with military operations for the U.S. Navy and whichever military branch may use the improvements to defend the United States, combat is always on the table.

Where Are Seabees Stationed?

Although Seabees operate all over the world, you’ll find them stationed primarily at either Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport in Mississippi or Port Hueneme in California. These two military installations serve as the primary headquarters of Seabees and hold strategic positioning to ensure the needs of the Navy are met and America’s objectives are executed properly.

Are Seabees Respected?

Do you know why there's nothing like the Seabees anywhere else on Earth? Because the effort and knowledge that they provide the Navy are invaluable and unmeasurable. Yes, this group is not the most known unit among Sailors or other military branches, but they are one of the most respected for their strong contributions to those fighting. Seabees have a unique history, a fun name, and a killer mascot, and they deliver important projects that help keep America safe in more ways than one.

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Image: Ensign Caleb Lennnon | Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5’s Detail Sasebo




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