By WLOX Staff
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Navy Seabees from Gulfport will be among those deploying to Afghanistan in the coming months as part of the 30,000 additional U.S. forces headed to the region.
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 contains about 580 Seabees. Their mission is to help provide infrastructure such as bases, berthing facilities, roads and airfields for the increasing number of U.S. forces in country.
The sailors will deploy by March, and may leave as early as January. As part of their normal rotation cycle, NMCB 133 was originally scheduled for deployment in February.
"Since World War II, the Seabees have supported the Marine Corps in every major conflict. This is our legacy, and we are proud to be part of this important mission," said Rear Adm. Mark Handley, Commander, First Naval Construction Division.
The battalion had already completed its required homeport training in preparation for deployment.
"Our Seabee Battalions receive extensive training in both construction and defensive skills, so this mission is exactly what we have traditionally trained for. Seabees have a vital role to play as they work to provide the infrastructure necessary to complete our country's objectives in Afghanistan," Handley said.
"After a successful homeport training cycle, NMCB 133 stands ready to answer the president's call to surge additional forces into Afghanistan," said Cmdr. Christopher Kurgan, commanding officer of NMCB 133. "We appreciate all the responsive support that we have received from across the Naval Construction Force to finalize our training and equipping. We also deeply appreciate the understanding and support of our families as they continue to sacrifice and allow us to answer our nation's call."
Various vehicles, equipment, tools and materials are also being prepared to be shipped from Gulfport and Port Hueneme to support their mission. Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center (NFELC) and Seabee Readiness Group personnel are breaking out containers and preparing them for shipment from Gulfport, Miss., and Port Hueneme, Calif.
Construction equipment is also being broken out from warehouses, de-preserved and operationally checked. This gear will be staged for shipment when it is ready. Some items will be shipped by air, but most will go by ship transport. Many of the pieces of heavy construction equipment will be armored before they are deployed. NFELC has active contracts to armor construction equipment in Gulfport.
Mobile Tactical Vehicle Replacements (MTVRs) are also being armored at other locations in California, North Carolina and Florida.
Troops are being outfitted with the latest in Personal Gear and Combat Equipment including ballistic protective eyewear, body armor, hydration systems, extreme cold weather gear and fire resistant clothing.