Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Eleven is new to Gulfport, but it's no stranger to the Navy. The battalion has a rich history. As Commander of the First Naval Construction Division, Admiral Richard Cellon, explains, the unit has roots dating back to World War II.
"After World War II, the battalion was de-commissioned. It was re-commissioned in Korea and served through almost the end of the Vietnam era from 1963 to 1969, and then again it was de-commissioned, and now we're bringing it back."
Hundreds of former NMCB 11 members who fought in those wars, came to Gulfport to help resurrect their old unit. For many, like John Mott, it was a bittersweet reunion.
"I kind of wondered when I came down here what it would be like. You know after 40 years, you kind of have some mixed feelings about it."
Bob Cahill was in the unit from 1966 to 1968. He says he's glad to see one of the most storied Seabee battalions return.
"I think it's really a great day for the Navy, that this wonderful battalion is back. This is kind of a story group of people."
The unit, 580 members strong, will use the same motto as the old unit. 'Remembering the past, while constructing the future.'
Commanding Officer Stephen Revelas emphasized the importance of that mantra, in his address Friday.
"Look at this audience today, and know that you stand tall on the shoulders of giants. 65 years of Seabees that have gone before you. Honor them."
According to Admiral Cellon, at a time when the number of overall armed forces are going down, the extra unit could not have come at a better time.
"We are really trying to meet the global demand signal for Seabees. Seabees are deployed around the world right now. We are in some 32 locations outside the United states. Quite frankly, we're stretched a little thin, and so having this additional capacity will enable our Seabees to move into a rotation cycle that is similar to the fleet."
And that will ultimately allow Seabees to spend more time at home.
At home or away, the men and women of NMCB 11 will continue the mission practiced by so many before them.
With Friday's ceremony, Gulfport is now home to 5 of the country's 9 Seabee battalions. A second commissioning ceremony took place this afternoon for the 25th Naval Construction Regiment. Regiment 25 brings some 95 personnel, officers, and civilians to Gulfport.