Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion FORTY Active March 1942 - November 1945 February 1966 - Present Country United States Branch USN Part of 31st Seabee Readiness Group Homeport Port Hueneme California Engagements World War II
Operation Enduring Freedom
CDR Tim J DeWitt
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40 (NMCB 40) is a Navy Seabee Battalion based out of Port Hueneme, California. Nicknamed "Fighting FORTY". Its primary mission is wartime contingency construction as well as peacetime construction and disaster relief.
World War II set the stage for the birth of NMCB FORTY—the ensuing island hopping from one Pacific theater combat zone to another earned the battalion its title, "Fighting FORTY". The battalion’s first campaign in the New Hebrides included among other construction tasks the challenge of building an airstrip through solid coral. "Fighting FORTY" completed this project in 1943 and went on to build additional support facilities. As the pace of the war mounted, an advance party from NMCB FORTY landed with the first beach assault troops at Los Negros Island. During a fierce Japanese counterattack, FORTY Seabees dug in with Army troops on their defensive perimeter. After the fury of the attack subsided, FORTY returned to the job of rehabilitating the airstrip which it soon completed. In 1944, "Fighting FORTY” returned home, regrouped and sailed again into the Pacific in late 1944. Port calls were made at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Eniwetok Island; and Tanapay Harbor, Saipan. In 1945, the battalion sailed for Okinawa one week after Easter and immediately began the work of rebuilding the island’s main supply routes. The battalion fought enemy forces and endured two major typhoons during its deployment to Okinawa. Following the close of World War II, “Fighting FORTY” joined the ranks of many other Seabee battalions that were decommissioned as part of post-war drawdown.
Reactivation and Vietnam
In 1966, the nation recalled NMCB FORTY from a decommissioned status where the lore of her Seabees had rested for 21 years. "Fighting FORTY" responded in force by deploying to Chu Lai, Vietnam to support advance base operations for the 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. FORTY built ammunition magazines and maintained Main Supply Routes during that deployment. FORTY returned to Vietnam for additional tours in 1967 and 1968.
1990s to Present
In August 1990, after Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, "Fighting FORTY" was called from its deployment site in Guam to support the First and Second Marine Expeditionary Forces in Saudi Arabia. FORTY participated in the II MEF bed-down—the largest multi-battalion contingency operation in twenty years. In 36 days Seabees placed over 20,700 cubic meters of concrete and built six separate camps to house 25,000 Marines. In support of Marine Air Group SIXTEEN, NMCB FORTY prepared 1,500,000 square feet (140,000 m2) of aircraft parking, fueling taxiways and maintenance hangar pads.
With the arrival of the first nine-man team on December 10, 1992 and the subsequent arrival its main body the following month, NMCB FORTY provided expeditious construction support to the forces of OPERATION RESTORE HOPE in Somalia. "Fighting FORTY" aided the Somalis through the construction and repair of schools and orphanages.
Midway through its 1996 European Deployment, NMCB FORTY was redeployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of OPERATION JOINT ENDEAVOR. Mount-out and embarkation via ship, rail, line-haul, and air was complex. Working along side the U.S. Army, NMCB FORTY planned and operated with the Army’s First Armored Division Implementation Force (IFOR) to close and disestablish fourteen base camps. All operations in the formidably hostile environment of the Bosnia Posavina Corridor were done tactically with weapons at the ready. Logging over 256 tactical convoys covering more than 220,000 vehicle miles within a 75-day operation, FORTY completed the camp disestablishments and provided contingency construction support for nineteen critical force sustainment projects—enabling enforcement of the Dayton Peace Accord.
In 2003, “Fighting FORTY” added once again to its rich history through its support of OPERATIONS ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Home ported in Port Hueneme during the hostilities phase, NMCB FORTY aided its sister battalions deployed to Southwest Asia through massive embarkation operations to send nearly 9.6 million pounds of construction equipment from California to Kuwait to support ongoing combat operations. In August 2003, the “Fighting FORTY” Air Detachment redeployed from Okinawa, Japan directly to Southwest Asia to support ongoing global war on terrorism operations in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
In December 2004 the battalion deployed to the Pacific theater of operations. The battalion completed numerous construction projects at the main body site in Okinawa and other locations throughout Japan, including Atsugi, Fuji, Iwakuni, and Sasebo. There were also detail sites in Pohang and Chinhae, South Korea; Diego Garcia, and San Clemente Island. Within a month of deployment, a group of 50 Seabees responded to the devastating tsunami that struck Southeast Asia, conducting critical engineering assessments on government facilities and airfields. They also supervised the construction of tension fabric structures and supported runway working parties that delivered relief supplies to the people of Indonesia. Additionally, the battalion participated in the Deployment-for-Training (DFT) Cobra Gold, promoting interoperability between the nations’ military components. Finally, the battalion deployed Seabees in support of a Joint Task Force exercise, New Horizons 2005, to provide humanitarian construction and engineering operations for the nation of Panama.
In September 2005, “Fighting FORTY” conducted humanitarian relief, clearing, and construction operations for the citizens of greater New Orleans, Louisiana and Gulfport, Mississippi following the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina. Under arduous conditions and with limited resources, NMCB 40 employed resourcefulness, ingenuity, and technical expertise to provide immeasurable relief and accelerated recovery in the affected region,
In April 2006, “Fighting FORTY” deployed to Guam and Southwest Asia, brilliantly executing peacetime and contingency construction operations around the globe, including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in support of OIF, and detail sites in Guam; Whidbey Island, Washington; Palau; Thailand; and aboard the USNS Mercy. In the end, the battalion completed over 42,000 mandays of safe, high quality construction throughout the Pacific and Central Command Theaters of Operation, resulting in a combined cost savings of over $14.8M.
In August 2007, “Fighting FORTY” mounted out to the CENTCOM, EUCOM, and SOUTHCOM theaters. The complexities of the battalion’s deployment cannot be overstated, with sites located throughout Kuwait; the Horn of Africa; Andros Island; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Rota, Spain; Romania; Sao Tome; and Ghana. Despite the challenges associated with such dispersion of personnel and tasking, the battalion excelled, safely completing over 46,000 mandays of construction, camp maintenance service and combat service support on 91 projects.
In January 2009, “Fighting FORTY” deployed to Okinawa, Japan, and nine detail sites spread throughout the Pacific Command (PACOM) Area of Operations. NMCB 40 took custody of the Tables of Allowance at Camp Shields in Okinawa and Camp Covington in Guam manning and maintaining both locations. NMCB 40 participated in eight annual PACOM exercises: COBRA GOLD, FREEDOM BANNER, BALIKATAN, VOLUNTARY DEMONSTRATION OF RESPONSE (VDR), Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), FOAL EAGLE/KEY RESOLVE, TALISMAN SABER, and ULCHI FOCUS GUARDIAN. The exercises included Humanitarian and Civic Assistance (HCA) projects which continue to further the U.S. strategic goal of Theater Security Cooperation in key regions around the world. In all, NMCB 40 completed a total of 40,143 mandays (MDs) of readiness training and construction tasking for more than 48 construction projects in 10 countries dispersed throughout the PACOM AOR. NMCB 40 also opened up the newest 26-person detail site in Timor-Leste (formerly known as East Timor) and constructed, repaired and renovated over eight schools for the Timorese Government.
In June 2010, “Fighting FORTY” deployed a reinforced Air Detachment of 125 Seabees from Port Hueneme, California to Kandahar in Regional Command – South (RC(S)), Afghanistan, to support Operation HAMKARI BARAYE (Phase III of Operation MOSHTARAK). This operation was critical to shape and enable the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) to protect the Afghan people and provide a secure environment for sustainable peace. The Mainbody deployed to RC(N) and RC(E) to Forward Operating Base Deh Dadi II and six enduring detail sites in July, 2010, throughout the NATO ISAF Theater of Operations. The Battalion conducted a relief-in-place (RIP) with NCMB FOUR to support the surge of 30,000 additional troops directed by the Commander-in-Chief to bolster the Afghanistan strategy.
NMCB 40 is currently deployed to the Pacific Theater. The battalion has a main body site in Okinawa and 8 detachment sites spread throughout the Area of Operation.
From the Pacific Island during World War II to the jungles of Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, the scorching sands of Somalia, the war torn areas of Bosnia, and back to the deserts of Southwest Asia, the Seabees of "Fighting FORTY" have stood ready to build and fight in a world that challenges freedom.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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