NAPLES, Italy – Seabees, Civil Engineer Corps, and personnel assigned to Public Works Department (PWD) Naples, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Europe Africa Southwest Asia (EURAFSWA) and guests celebrated the 74th birthday of the Seabees at Tenuta La Contessa in Varcaturo, Italy March 5.
The Seabees, founded by Rear Adm. Ben Moreell in 1942, rose to fame during World War II when the Navy’s construction battalions or "CBs" provided combat support for the allied war effort. They assisted in constructing an artificial harbor at Normandy after D-Day, supported Marines on Iwo Jima and transformed countless islands and outposts into workable bases for the Allied to march to victory.
Commander, 6th Fleet; Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO; Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Joint Maritime Component Commander Europe Vice Adm. James G. Foggo III served as the guest speaker during the celebration and spoke of the importance of having Seabees in today’s Navy and the benefits of having them in the Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia region.
"Tonight, I am reminded that we are all part to the Seabee story, the Seabee heritage, and we are all given the responsibility to pass our traditions onto the next generation of Seabees," said Foggo. "… After the New Year, I sent all hands a copy of CNO Richardson’s Design for Maritime Superiority, which is our blueprint for Naval Operations during his tenure. When you read it, it sounds to me like he wanted everyone in the Navy to be a Seabee! I mean…He wants every Sailor to have the "Can Do" mentality and toughness that the Seabees have embodied since their foundation."
The celebration highlighted the Seabees and their birthday but also recognized the 149th anniversary of the CEC and 174th anniversary of NAVFAC.
The CEC established in 1867, is made up of the Navy’s engineering and architecture officers. They are responsible for executing and managing the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the Navy’s shore facilities, ports, piers, warehouses, shipyards, airfields and other facilities have been provided through their leadership and personal efforts.
NAVFAC was established in 1842 as the Bureau of Yards and Docks before it was reorganized as NAVFAC in 1966. The command originally had responsibility only for the design, construction and maintenance of Navy yards and a few other shore stations. Now, NAVFAC manages the planning, design, construction, contingency engineering, real estate, environmental and public works support for U.S. Navy shore facilities around the world.
"It is very important to periodically take the time to reflect upon the history and heritage of those who served before us and to build upon the strong foundation and superb reputation they have established," said NAVFAC EURAFSWA Commanding Officer Capt. Michael Oestereicher. "It is equally important to celebrate both their historical successes and our recent ones. Our Seabee Ball committee and guest speaker Vice Adm. Foggo successfully enabled this to happen this evening."
The events at the celebration included a cake-cutting ceremony, recognition of the oldest and youngest Seabee, the fallen comrade ceremony and singing the Seabee Song.
"I want to thank you for serving your country here in Sixth Fleet. I truly appreciate the watches you stand, the training you conduct, your professionalism, and the way you represent the United States of America and the U.S. Navy every day," said Foggo. "You have accomplished many great things while maintaining your accountability, initiative, integrity and toughness. I am confident that the future of the Navy and the heritage of the Seabees are safe in your capable hands. I’m proud of you! Keep up the good work! God bless, Godspeed … and ‘Construimus, Batuimus’"