ZUBUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Seabees assigned to U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 Detail Wolverine are conducting ongoing contingency construction projects in southern Zabul Province.
Based at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Wolverine since mid-January, the detail assumed construction authority from NMCB 1 and immediately made an impact, completing several life-support projects throughout the FOB over the past month.
To date, Detail Wolverine Seabees have completed 11 projects, from new airfield ammunition boxes to communication fiber installation. Their largest project has been the construction of new berthing facilities and a tactical operations center for the U.S. Army 1-14th Cavalry.
One of the biggest challenges the Seabees have faced is poor weather conditions in the area. Shortly after assuming construction duties from NMCB 1, FOB Wolverine was ravaged by a massive snow storm, which dropped more than two feet of snow in a 24-hour period, a rare event for this area of Afghanistan.
Several hours into the latest storm, the overbearing weight of snow began to weaken the interior frames of the berthing tents. The Seabees of NMCB 7 were called into action, assisting the FOB maintenance contractor with critical snow removal from roofs and reinforcement of interior wooden frames for tents throughout the FOB.
The accumulation of snow forced the closure of FOB entry control points (ECPs) and halted daily airfield operations. Once again, the 'Bees were back in action, clearing more than 22,000 cubic yards of snow from the airfield and ECPs, while continuing their daily operations and routine maintenance.
Detail Wolverine has continued the local partnership mission with the Afghan National Army (ANA) by providing maintenance and repair subject matter expertise to Soldiers in the ANA 4th Kandak, 2 Brigade, 205th Corps. Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Lucas Arriaga and Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Dhane Givler work hand-in-hand with their ANA counterparts, providing basic maintenance skills, general expertise and oversight during routine vehicle repair.
"This is a great opportunity for us Seabees to assist our Afghan counterparts in the upkeep of their tactical vehicles," said Arriaga, a native of Dallas, Texas. "The most challenging aspect of our partnership is working through the language barriers." Construction Electrician 1st Class Michael Jordan, the detachment's resident generator maintenance expert, assists ANA technicians with their equipment and provides valuable information for extending generator lifecycles.
Wrapping up the maintenance cycle, Detail Officer in Charge Lt. Sean Hughes, also plays a key part in the current mission by working with the local ANA maintenance officer, troubleshooting the ANA's Logistics System and assisting with building the framework for a sustainable, effective maintenance program.
"Over the past month we've worked diligently to develop friendships with our counterparts," said Hughes, a native of Omaha, Neb. "Gaining the trust of the ANA will allow our professional relationships to be based on mutual respect and understanding; allowing for a more effective partnership. Major strides in increasing the ANA's ability to operate independently of coalition forces have been made by our predecessors, NMCB 1, and we look forward to the difference we can make over the coming months."
As NMCB 7 continues to partner with its ANA counterparts, they play a key role in training the ANA, aiding in their ability to maintain operational readiness and improving their overall ability to operate independently of NATO Forces.
NMCB 7 deployed to the Combined Joint Operations Area - Afghanistan, from its homeport of Gulfport, Miss. Jan. 9, to provide a highly responsive and maneuverable engineer force and resources to conduct contingency, mobility and general engineering support operations across supported commander's lines of operation throughout CENTCOM and improve the operational capabilities of coalition forces.
NMCB 7, often referred to as the "Magnificent Seven," is one of the original 10 Seabee battalions authorized by the Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks, in 1942, and is currently one of nine active NMCBs in the Naval Construction Force, a military engineering force of nearly 17,000 active and Reserve Component Seabees operating worldwide. Upon completion of their current deployment, NMCB 7 will decommission Sep. 30 as part of the Fiscal Year 2012 force reduction plan.