PASO ROBLES Nearly 400 Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3 completed a vital step in deployment preparation last month after qualifying on five different combat weapons systems.
According to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard Anglin, the training event’s officer in charge, participants safely operated the M240B and Mk2 .50-caliber machine guns, the Mk19 and M203 grenade launchers and the AT4 rocket launcher.
“When deployed, we are responsible to provide our own security — our Army and Marine Corps counterparts rely on that ability and don’t see us as an element needing their defense,” said Anglin. “These weapons are part of the defensive layers we use to protect ourselves. They are a critical skill set, and I’m seeing a lot of great effort by our Seabees.”
The weapons allow Seabees to engage enemy combatants at greater distances and in larger quantities than the standard issue M4 or M16 semi-automatic weapons. Each of the M240B and Mk2 .50-caliber machine guns has a maximum effective range of up to 1,800 meters.
The Mk19 grenade launcher can engage pockets of enemies at 2,212 meters with a blast radius of 15 meters.
In contrast to Mk19, which sets on a tripod, the M203 is a personnel-carried grenade launcher that fits underneath either the M4 or M16. It carries a maximum effective range of 350 meters with the same blast radius as the Mk19.
Unlike any of the machine guns or grenade launchers, the anti-tank AT4 is a hand-carried rocket launcher with a maximum effective range equal to the M203, but it can penetrate heavily armored vehicles and boasts a 65-meter blast radius.
The AT4’s kinetic power all but hypnotized Builder Constructionman (SCW) Michael Dorsey.
“It has a really big boom!” said Dorsey. “You can feel the force thump your chest and see a good-sized mushroom cloud upon contact. It’s nice!”
The weapons familiarization and qualifications event is a critical step in preparing to deploy. Following completion, NMCB 3 will participate in a graded field training exercise (FTX) that determines whether or not they are ready to put boots on ground. Ensuring the Seabees are confident and ready before the exercise places NMCB 3 in the best possible position to succeed.
“When I’m gearing up to take charge of whichever weapon I’m assigned to operate, I feel ready more than ready,” said Equipment Operator 3rd Class (SCW) Izzy Hidalgo. “I know I can help my fellow Seabee if we take fire, and I feel completely secure that the person next to me has the same knowledge. Thanks to this training, I feel 100 percent confident that we are all capable warfighters, and I know we will smoke FTX.”