MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – U.S. Navy Seabees deployed with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 kicked off a Landfill Capping Project in support of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Iwakuni, Dec. 16.
Seabees from NMCB-5 will be the first battalion to work on this project. Upon completion, the construction will significantly reduce the risk of the Bird Aerial Strike Hazard (BASH) incidents by allowing MCAS Iwakuni to cut down vegetation to maintain the landfill, thus deterring local wildlife from inhabiting areas around MCAS flight operations areas. Eliminating these areas will contribute to cost savings in aircraft maintenance and repairs as well as preventing the potential for loss of life due to inflight bird strikes.
“Safety of flight is a top priority for us,” said Chad Schuch, Airport Manager for MCAS Iwakuni. We’ve had several damaging strikes not only to military aircraft but to [All Nippon Airways] aircraft as well and so we absolutely appreciate the Seabees being here. To turn the land back useable so it can be developed at some future point is a long term goal for the landfill.”
The U.S. Army 835th Transportation Battalion offloaded civil engineering support equipment from the U.S. Army Vessel Harpers Ferry (LCU 2022) and U.S. Army Vessel Port Hudson (LCU 2035) to support the project in Iwakuni in a combined joint forces effort.
“Seeing the dozer being lifted off the ship marked the beginning for me,” said Equipment Operator 1st Class Wesley Avery, from Barnhart, Texas, and NMCB-5 Detail Iwakuni’s operations petty officer. “This project has been long awaited for the base and we are now ready to hit the ground running. This will be a training experience for the equipment operators, the project will cover every aspect of being an operator.”
The Seabees will cap and reshape a 30-acre multi-layer landfill at the north end of MCAS Iwakuni. Tasking includes demolition of on-site structures and underground utility lines, rough and final grading, hauling in layers of protective dirt, and adding of top soil to landscape to finish, demonstrating capability critical to theater objectives.
“Being part of this project gives me great pride as an operator,” said Equipment Operator 2nd Class Joshua Santiago, from Meriden, Connecticut, and the project safety for the landfill cap project. “Lowering BASH incidents for the facility directly assists with the base’s contingency missions.”
Seabees from NMCB-5 are establishing the multi-year project, which it will be turned over to the next NMCB in rotation to deploy.
NMCB-5 is deployed across the Indo-Pacific region conducting high-quality construction to support U.S. and partner nations to strengthen partnerships, deter aggression, and enable expeditionary logistics and naval power projection. The battalion stands ready to support Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief and Major Combat Operations throughout the region.