A knack for putting things together and being handy with power tools will get your career as a Navy Seabee off to a good start. The Naval Construction Battalions or CBs support the Navy by building bases, offering disaster and humanitarian support.
Initially, the United States used civilian contractors to build bases on Pacific islands when they were concerned about joining World War II. In 1940, work began, but when the U.S. joined the war, using contractors was no longer an option.
Due to international law, civilians couldn’t fight the enemy and would be considered guerillas. Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, asked for a building entity that could also fight. On January 5, 1942, the Naval Construction Battalions were born under the motto, We Build, We Fight.
The first Battalions began at a Naval base in Rhode Island and were deployed to Bora Bora on February 17, 1942. The First Construction Detachment had 296 men and named the Seabees in March by the Navy.
In July 1942, the Seabees went to Midway Island, cleaned up the aftermath of a Japanese bombing, and built a new Sand Island airstrip. They worked on Henerson Field in Guadalcanal and helped with the Normandy Invasion.
During World War II, 325,000 men served in the Seabees, helping with every major amphibious mission, fighting, building over 400 locations, learning 60 skilled trades. There were also 8,000 Civil Engineer Corps officers serving with them.
However, their numbers went down to 3,300 after the war. Their name was changed to the Mobile Construction Battalions, and they supported operations in Cuba and around the Pacific.
Like others disbanded or reduced after WWII, the Seabees made a comeback during the Korean War. The Seabees worked with the Marine Corps and the Army to build and defend causeways and more.
In 1955, the Seabees began going to Antarctica every year as a part of Operation “Deep Freeze.” Initially, they built a 6,000-foot ice runway and finished it by the time the next party arrived.
In subsequent deployments, they built roads, underground storage, labs, and living quarters and created the first nuclear power plant. They continued to support military efforts in Vietnam and Beirut during the 1960s through the 1980s.
Present-day Seabees work with humanitarian efforts worldwide and build military compounds in war zones.