In preparation for their upcoming deployment, 17 members of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 Water Well Team embarked on a field training exercise (FTX) to Fort Hunter Liggett near California’s central coast.
The training was led by Equipment Operator 1st Class Christopher Henderson and Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Jared Stewart of the 31st Seabee Readiness Group.
The exercise began with two weeks of classroom instruction followed by the two-week field exercise. The classroom instruction covered a range of topics, including geology, the three types of U.S. Navy drilling rigs and various drilling methods and procedures.
On Aug. 20, the team left for Fort Hunter Liggett to begin the second phase of training. The mission was to construct a 600-foot water well and provide a minimum working capacity of 45 gallons per minute.
The task required 11 days of around-the-clock effort, forcing the team members to alter their sleeping schedules and endure nonstop eight-hour drilling shifts. Temperatures reached 100 degrees during midday and dropped to the low 50s by the early morning.
Regardless of the challenges and obstacles the team faced, everyone was fired up to finally be out in the field and get a taste of what was in store for the upcoming deployment.
Visiting the team during the exercise were Capt. Larry Vasquez, commanding officer, Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC); Capt. Dean Tufts, commanding officer, 31st Seabee Readiness Group; Command Master Chief Thomas Cyr of NBVC; and Cmdr. Jeffrey Kilian, commanding officer, NMCB 4.
The team reached its goal Aug. 29.
“I asked for Water Well, not expecting to be part of the team, so when I was chosen I was very excited. I was especially eager to get to know the team, who will become my small family in a sense,” said Equipment Operator Constructionman Priscilla French about her experience on Water Well FTX.
The success of NMCB 4’s Water Well Team has established the battalion as a powerhouse in the contingency water well drilling business. Utilitiesman 2nd Class Luis Esparza is returning for his second consecutive year with the team.
“Last year, my team drilled a total of seven successful wells,” he said. “My primary focus is to teach and prepare the new Water Well Team so we can be as successful as the team was last year.
“Needless to say,” he added, “a high expectation has been set for next year’s Water Well Team deploying to the Horn of Africa in February 2013. But a new environment will bring new challenges and opportunities.”