SEABEES

Success in World War II hinged on the ability of the military to quickly complete ambitious construction projects under dangerous conditions so the U.S. Navy established the military’s first Naval Construction Battalions under the direction of officers from the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps. More than 325,000 Seabees served during World War II. Continuing this proud tradition, the Seabees have provided critical support to American troops in every conflict since then.

We Build, We Fight

The Seabees were construction workers fully trained in defending themselves against enemy attack while building the infrastructure to keep the war effort moving.

The drive and ingenuity of these fighting builders allowed the U.S. military to stay a step ahead of the enemy in both World War II Theaters of Operation and were a key factor in securing victory.

Following WWII, the extraordinary contributions of the Seabees led to them becoming a permanent part of the Navy’s fighting forces, building and fighting in every military conflict since their inception.

EXPLORE
SEABEE INGENUITY

Whether working on major projects near the main camp or out in the field away from the comforts of home and reliable supplies, Seabee ingenuity not only supported the war effort, but made life easier for all. As your cursor hovers over each photo, you’ll see just how hard working and inventive they are.

  • After enduring days of heavy enemy shelling and frontline combat to secure the island, Seabees worked in a haze of steam and black dust to carve a base camp and runway out of the volcanic rock on Iwo Jima.
  • Due to the Herculean efforts of the Seabees, Tinian Field — on a tiny coral island in the Pacific — became the largest airport in the world at the time, with six B-29 Superfortress runways.
  • Beginning in 1955, Seabees braved blizzards and extreme cold to create bases for scientific research in Antarctica. Their achievements include a 6-story dome constructed at the South Pole in 1975 to shield labs and living quarters from the snow and ice.
  • Ever ingenious and not fond of scrubbing clothes, Seabees on detachment constructed a variety of washing machines powered by the wind, like this one in the Pacific during World War II.
  • Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 board a military helicopter on their way to build Special Forces camps at undisclosed locations in Afghanistan.
  • Using an excavator, Seabees build a security barrier to protect a Forward Operating Base in Tarnak, Afghanistan, a former Al-Qaida training camp captured from the Taliban in 2002.
  • For decades, Seabees have worked underwater, performing construction, repairs, and precision explosive demolition as well as search and recovery and reconnaissance.
  • Steel pontoons, also known as "Magic Boxes," were fastened together to solve many problems. Here, they form a barge to move damaged planes to repair bases on Okinawa. The same boxes were used to construct causeways, ramps, and bridges.
  • In 1956, constructing bases in Antarctica was a dangerous task because weak ice and undetected crevasses were large enough to swallow construction machinery. Seabees constructed equipment to pick out safe routes through the ice fields.
  • Undaunted by the lack of equipment, Seabees constructed a photo enlarger out of scrap wood and an old can, allowing photo documentation of our nation's efforts in World War II.
  • Seabees built the infrastructure to transform Da Nang, Vietnam into a key deep-water port that became the Navy’s largest overseas shore command.
  • Working seven 24-hour days, Seabees drilled a 1,210 foot well to bring much needed water to a combat outpost in Toor Ghar, Afghanistan and to the local people in this arid area.
  • In 1944, Seabees created an all-in-one BBQ and hot water sink for cleaning field gear after chow out of 55-gallon drums and trash cans.
  • In 2011, 19 days of hard work by Seabees changed the lives of 3,400 Ethiopians. The Seabees dug a water well so residents of Jedane no longer have to walk more than 2,000 yards to draw water from a hole in the ground.

U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
Naval Base Ventura County, Bldg. 100
Port Hueneme, CA 93043
(805) 982-5165
seabeemuseum@navy.mil

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