The main body of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 arrived in Okinawa, Japan, Jan. 18 to relieve the Gulfport, Miss.-based NMCB 74 and begin their scheduled six-month deployment.
The group had been scheduled to arrive a day earlier, but a mechanical issue was discovered on their aircraft during a refueling stop. That kept them overnight while the aircraft was being repaired. The Seabees arrived at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa the next day and moved on to Camp Shields, where the deployed battalion headquarters is located.
During the deployment NMCB 5 will send detachments to at least 17 exercises and missions across the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility. Projects will include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, theater security cooperation, camp maintenance and construction readiness operations.
NMCB 5’s advance party arrived Jan. 3. Over the next two weeks, Seabees from NMCB 5 and NMCB 74 conducted a turnover of all projects, processes, materials and equipment on Camp Shields. The turnover ended Jan. 14, when the commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, Capt. Rodney Moore, presided over a ceremony transferring authority of Camp Shields from Cmdr. David McAlister, NMCB 74 commanding officer, to Cmdr. Peter Maculan, NMCB 5’s commanding officer.
With turnover completed and the main body on camp, the Seabees of NMCB 5 were ready to get to work.
“Through all the preparation and planning, NMCB 5 troops displayed the highest of hopes and aspirations for this PACOM deployment,” said NMCB 5’s chaplain, Lt. Matthew Riley.
Those staying at Camp Shields will receive a cultural awareness and area orientation brief from Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa staff. Given the current mood of many Japanese locals in the wake of some headline-making incidents involving alleged crimes by U.S. service members, one NMCB 5 Sailor said she appreciates the importance of the brief.
“This brief will make sure Sailors have an understanding of the policies that are in place in Japan,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Lydia Franklin. “It will help them to better understand the Japanese culture and beliefs.”