OKINAWA, Japan -- Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 worked day and night to complete a 48-hour mount out exercise (MOX) onboard Camp Shields in Okinawa, Japan, Nov. 19-21.
A MOX simulates one of the core capabilities of an NMCB; the ability to deploy an 89-person air detachment within 48 hours to support any mission required by a supported commander. Missions could range from major combat operations to humanitarian and disaster relief.
The scenario for this exercise was a major combat operations response to a threat in the Indo-Pacific Command area of operations.
The mount out required robust communication and attention to detail within the embarkation team; the department that provides the expertise and muscle behind any major movement.
“Many people would think communication is the most challenging part of the exercise because there are so many moving parts, but I don’t think that’s actually the hardest aspect,” said Senior Chief Equipment Operator Matthew Kreamalmyer, the battalion’s embarkation officer. “When it comes to load planning and exercising the ability to move so many personnel and pieces of equipment, it takes a lot of time to pay attention to the small details that will cause a great deal of frustration for preparing the flight if they’re overlooked.”
The Seabees worked day and night in shifts to move 37 units of civil engineering support equipment (CESE), 20 pallets consisting of tricon storage containers, shoring materials, shower and galley materials, meals-ready-to-eat, and personnel gear issue.
“Our team has been motivated, they’re pushing hard and learning new trades which also helps diversify the battalion,” said Kreamalmyer. “We have Sailors from every single rate in every company in our battalion working on this exercise in which they have to work outside of their rate skill sets to make this happen as a battalion.”
After identifying the appropriate materials to support the mission, the Seabees can’t simply load them as-is into an aircraft. Getting the equipment ready for liftoff consists of several evolutions and meticulous attention to detail.
“Every little detail and measurement that goes into the preparation of the equipment matters in the end so that accurate information can get to the load planners and we can load the aircraft properly,” said Equipment Operator 2nd Class Monica Cervantes, the embarkation leading petty officer and night crew leader. “The chains on the tricon boxes have to be a certain way, everything needs to be accounted for, the weights and measurements that were recorded have to be accurate and match our paperwork; all of these things are inspection items.”
The Seabees built pallets and shoring to load the equipment, washed and measured each piece of CESE to locate its center of balance, and collected data to prioritize the order of shipment in the staging area.
The data, consisting of the total weight, dimensions, hazardous materials, and aircraft compatibility, moves into the hands of the load planners, who input the information into a computer program called Sea Service Deployment Module to determine where each item will be placed in the military aircraft before the Seabees can stage the items. If these steps are not taken and the load is not properly planned, it could unbalance the aircraft and endanger the flight.
“The final push of this exercise was probably the best for me because I got to see everything in its place knowing that I and the rest of the team had a part in loading every unit of CESE and supply materials,” said Builder 2nd Class Valerie Romero, a load planner for the exercise. “It’s a really big deal when you start thinking about how all the weights, measurements, and other data come into play to make sure that the aircraft is loaded with the right gear and will actually be cleared to fly.”
The days and nights of effort culminated in an inspection performed by a representative from the 30th Naval Construction Regiment and subject matter experts from NMCB-3 to determine the accuracy of the information and load plan to get the materials to the mission area, demonstrating that NMCB-3 stands ready to mobilize their air detachment.
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.