By Sue Brink, NAVFAC Southeast Public Affairs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast military, civilian employees and guests gathered at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, March 3, for the 2018 NAVFAC Southeast Seabee Ball.
The ball highlighted the Seabee's 76th birthday, 151st anniversary of the Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) and 176th anniversary of NAVFAC.
NAVFAC Southeast Commanding Officer Capt. Patrick Garin opened the celebration by recognizing and welcoming distinguished guests, retired military, the Seabees of Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202 Detachment Jacksonville and NAVFAC Southeast military and civilians along with the many friends and family members who attended the ball.
NAVFAC Assistant Commander for Acquisition Ms. Cindy Readal was the guest speaker for the ball. Deteriorating weather conditions in Washington D.C. prevented her from attending the event, so a video was provided of her speech that was played during the event.
"The diversity of the workforce remains our true strength," said Readal. "With over 19,000 civilians, 1,600 officers and 11,000 active and reserve Seabees around the world, working together as one team to deliver products and services to the Navy, Marine Corps, the Joint Force, and Department of Defense supported commanders at over 100 locations around the globe."
"The Naval Construction Force is a vital component of the U.S. maritime strategy as demonstrated by their global contributions to military operations at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels by providing support across the full range of military operations on five continents."
The theme for this year's ball was "Contingency Operations: We Answer the Call," wherein Readal acknowledged the tremendous accomplishments of CBMU-202, Public Works Departments, and Contingency Engineering Response Teams, that provided disaster relief and recovery efforts to areas devastated by hurricanes.
"It's clear that NAVFAC Southeast has been put to the test with contingency operations and disaster recovery, and has magnificently demonstrated impressive response capabilities."
Over the past several years, NAVFAC Southeast has seen many devastating storms. Hurricane Matthew ravaged the southeast in 2016 followed by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. These four major hurricanes caused $370 billion in damage in the U.S. and over $600 million in damages to over 1,500 Navy facilities, and caused the evacuation of over 1,000 U.S. government personnel and their families.
"Although NAVFAC is not new to natural disasters, it is NAVFAC Southeast that has clearly demonstrated the ability to 'answer the call' when it comes to contingency operations and disaster recovery, and has shown all of NAVFAC how to do it right," said Readal.
The incredible teamwork of the Seabees, civilians, CEC officers and its contractor partners allowed for the effective planning and response actions to mitigate the impacts of these storms on fourteen different Navy and Marine Corps installations.
Readal commended the team for their exceptional performance and asked anyone in the audience who participated in disaster recovery efforts to stand and be recognized.
In addition to the guest speaker, events at the ball included a photo display representing work by the team over the past year, a traditional cake-cutting ceremony recognizing the oldest and youngest Seabee, singing of "The Song of the Seabees," and concluded with an evening of dancing.
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 march to victory.
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.