Seabees headed to Haiti

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - More than 80 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 home ported at the Naval Construction Battalion Center here have been tasked to support relief operations in Haiti after a 7.0 earthquake devastated the city of Port Au Prince.

Personnel from NCBC and the 20th Seabee Readiness Group began pulling more than 40 pieces of civil engineer support equipment (CESE) and other non-CESE items from warehouses and prepping to fly out with the air detachment from the battalion late Friday or early Saturday.

NMCB 7 received the tasking to provide road clearing and debris removal among other tasks from the First Naval Construction Division Thursday and immediately began preparations to get the 690 short tons of cargo ready to roll. Initial indications are the air detachment will be in Haiti for approximately six months.

This tasking comes less than a month prior to the battalion's main body deployment to Rota, Spain, the Horn of Africa and several other locations in Africa and Europe. Due to the surge in Afghanistan, NMCB 7, which was originally scheduled to deploy for six months, will now deploy for approximately 10 months.

Seabees are well known for their humanitarian assistance and disaster recovery efforts around the world, having recently provided support for victims of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters.

Recent disaster recovery efforts include: About 125 Seabees deployed to Pakistan from Okinawa to help clear roads and remove debris to help relief workers get to isolated areas following the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Oct. 8, 2005.

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005, nearly 3,000 Seabees provided invaluable support to local communities. They made temporary repairs to more than 100 schools, removed 20,000 tons of debris, cleared 750 miles of roads, and delivered more than 100,000 gallons of fuel and water.

More than 135 Seabees deployed to Indonesia, Thailand and Sri-Lanka to provide humanitarian support in the wake of the massive tsunami that devastated the area in December 2004.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.