SILVERDALE, Wash. – A joint team of Seabees and public works shops’ employees performed road repairs critical to the Navy’s mission in spring 2014 and saved time and the taxpayers more than $31,000.
“Tom Johnson and Dennis Main were amazing they both have so much valuable knowledge and experience to pass on. This was definitely a great learning experience for me and the crew”, said Builder First Class Petty Officer Joshua Cooper, who had previous concrete placing experience building helicopter-pads and airfield runways in Kuwait and Puerto Rico while deployed with Naval Mobile Construction Battalions 4 and 5.
Winter 2014 weather had taken a toll on some critical roadways on Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton and a heavy rainstorm undermined an 8’ x 8’ section. The cost estimate to bring in an outside contractor totaled $36,000 but due to recent budget cuts funding was unavailable. There is a cost when issuing a contract that would have involved several civilian employees to award and monitor the contract and would have taken several months to complete.
This large pothole sat untouched for almost two weeks hindering traffic critical to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility mission. Without adequate funding, the public works department needed a cheaper solution and needed it fast. The solution was the Seabees.
Led by Cooper, his crew of five Seabees routed all the necessary dig permits, created a list of materials, and put together the project schedule in preparation for the work. Constrained by limited organic resources within the Self-Help Center, the public works department production team pitched in by supplying the Seabees with all the tools and materials they needed to perform the work and also offered the sage wisdom of two very seasoned maintenance mechanics.
Most of the other Seabees working on this project were fairly seasoned themselves with at least a deployment or two under their belts. The only exception was Builder Constructionman Recruit Jordan Bender who joined the Self-Help team in March, directly from A School.
“I never expected to be doing a job like this so soon after graduating A School; it was great working alongside Seabees and civilians willing to share their knowledge with me”, said Bender after working on his first official Seabee project.
In the end the Seabees were able to excavate the damaged portion of roadway plus an additional adjacent section of weak asphalt, and replaced it all with a more durable reinforced concrete slab covering a larger 15’ x 30’ portion of the road. All of this work took just 7 working days to complete and cost the Navy only $4,900.
Seabees have a reputation for doing big things with little resources oftentimes in austere environments. Even on shore duty, Seabees assigned to Self-Help billets are capable of doing big things with limited resources.