OKINAWA, Japan -- Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 assumed charge of all Indo-Pacific Region Naval Construction Force (NCF) missions from NMCB-5 during a Relief in Place/Transfer of Authority (RIP/TOA) ceremony at Camp Shields in Okinawa, Japan, Oct. 22.
The RIP/TOA marked the official start of NMCB-3’s deployment and the end of NMCB-5’s deployment to Indo-Pacific Region that began in April when the battalion deployed from Port Hueneme, Calif., where both NMCBs are home ported.
Capt. Robert Baughman, commander of Navy Expeditionary Forces Command Pacific and Task Force 75, presided over the ceremony.
“NMCB-5 delivered 22,000 man hours and over $6 million worth of construction efforts during the course of their deployment,” said Baughman. I want to thank the NMCB-5 team for everything you have done here throughout your deployment, and I wish you the best of luck as you wrap-up and head back to home port.”
While continuing his remarks, Baughman extended a warm welcome and words of encouragement to the Seabees of NMCB-3.
“I want to welcome NMCB-3 back to this area of operations,” said Baughman. “I’m confident that you all are going to do great things given the experience you have gained here during previous deployments. With that being said, I urge you all to stay focused and be ready because NMCBs are a vital component in achieving what we need to do as the Navy Expeditionary Force.”
Cmdr. Joseph Harder, commanding officer of NMCB-3 relieved Cmdr. Omarr Tobias, commanding officer of NMCB-5, in officially assuming all duties and responsibilities from the battalion.
“Congratulations to the Seabees of NMCB-5 on a phenomenal deployment,” said Harder. “Thank you for your commitment in setting conditions for our success, and for your transparency in helping us understand the challenges of the mission in front of us. We have the watch, so travel safely, and I wish you the best of luck during the challenging homeport cycle ahead of you.”
Harder expressed his excitement for the battalion’s deployment saying that Seabees join the Navy not just to train, but to put their skills to work by executing missions on foreign shores.
“For the Seabees of NMCB-3: you have worked very hard to be prepared for this challenging mission,” said Harder. “The senior leaders of this battalion have worked incredibly hard to set our standards high, and now it’s your opportunity to contribute to the 76-year legacy of the Seabees in the Pacific. Let’s make it happen!”
The ceremony concluded with the lowering of NMCB-5’s battalion flag and the raising of NMCB-3’s to signify the transfer of authority.
Before the RIP/TOA occurred, a week-long inspection and review was conducted of all equipment, supplies, projects, facilities and civil engineering support equipment (CESE).
When a Seabee battalion deploys, it does not travel with equipment. Instead, all construction equipment and supplies are already at the deployment sites. A detailed turnover must be conducted before the incoming battalion commences work.
“Alfa Company arrived at Camp Shields in several waves on various days,” said Lt. Corey Cattano, Alfa Company commander. “I’m very impressed with what we were able to accomplish given our atypical arrival schedule. We had some issues embarking out to Okinawa, but I’ve always said that when Seabees are needed, they step up to the plate and that was evident during this turnover.”
The CESE undergoes a more thorough inspection in a process called the Battalion Equipment Evaluation Program (BEEP). The BEEP inspection is designed to transfer all special knowledge of CESE maintenance, operations and techniques to the relieving battalion. During the BEEP inspection, NMCB-3’s Alfa Company, consisting of construction mechanics and equipment operators, inspected and received custody of more than 340 units of CESE from NMCB-5.
“The Alfa Company Seabees did an outstanding job in the teamwork aspect as we worked alongside NMCB-5,” said Cattano. “Not only were we working with Seabees from another battalion, who were simultaneously trying to pack up their things to end a successful deployment and get home to their families, but we had to work amongst ourselves to get the job done in a timely and professional manner.”
When the inspection was complete, a red diamond shaped sticker with a white number three, called a BEEP sticker, was placed on each piece of CESE. A red diamond identifies the CESE as belonging to an NMCB; a triangle identifies it as belonging to a naval construction regiment.
NMCB-3 is forward deployed throughout the Indo-Pacific region and United States ready to support major combat operations, theater security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Seabees provide general engineering and civil support to Navy, Marine Corps and joint operational forces globally.