New Commander Takes Charge At Seabee Base

The traditional passing of the torch, where one captain relieves another as head of the Seabee Base, was no different than past ceremonies. But the new commander, Captain Van Dobson, adds one more duty to his list - overseeing the continued rebuilding of the base. It has already undergone $120 million in hurricane repairs.

"There is a lot to get done. It will take a number of years to get it all done," Dobson says.

The outgoing commander, Captain Eichert, started the enormous job. In his farewell, he cited one example of the military men and women coming together just hours after the storm passed.

"Dozens of Army and Navy students went across this base with chainsaws and trucks clearing debris, making it safe for our people and our families to return," Eichert says.

With a $400 million commitment from the top brass in Washington, Eichert says he's comfortable knowing his successor has a great head start.

"I think in his tour of duty in the next two plus years, he'll get most of it done. And I think it's going to be a really exciting time, both from an operational perspective of the base, and the quality of life."

Captain Dobson says the Seabees have always been good neighbors when disaster strikes.

"We want to be part of the recovery. We want to be part of the community. We have a lot of capability here for training and for war fighting, but as other needs can be met, we certainly want to do that and be a vital part of the community," Dobson says.

Dobson says he considers that particularly important since many of the base's civilian and military employees are part of the Gulf Coast community too.

Captain Dobson is no stranger to the Seabee Base. He was assigned there in the mid 1990s.

Captain Eichert is returning to Norfolk, Virginia for a second tour of duty.