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As the United States Navy’s construction arm, the Seabees go anywhere and build anything that can be built, often in harm's way. The Seabee official motto, "Construimus, Batuimus," means "We Build, We Fight." Created in World War II, Bees would go ashore following the Marines, building roads, bridges, gasoline storage tanks, hospitals, warehouses and housing. Since then, they have built and fought in every American conflict.Originally, Seabees were experienced civilian construction workers, but the Navy now has an extensive training program that follows boot camp.
Rates for Seabees
There are seven Seabee ratings: BU--Builders, CE--Construction Electrician, CM--Construction Mechanic, EA--Engineering Aid, EO--Equipment Operator, SW--Steelworker and UT--Utilitiesman. While each is a specialist in his own area, each Seabee is expected to know enough about each others' ratings to do basic work.
Seabee “A" school is in Gulfport, Mississippi. Recruits just out of boot camp are trained there. The 12-week school is a combination of classwork and hands-on training within their specialties. Immediately afterwards they attend another two-week school, Seabee Replacement Training, where the focus is more on combat skills.
On-the-job training is a critical part of a Seabee learning his trade. Each Seabee has a list of rating qualifications he must meet for promotion to the next higher rank. As they advance, the skill levels to meet the qualifications become much more extensive. Senior enlisteds take seriously the tradition of excellence the Bees have established over the decades and take the time to ensure junior personal learn their jobs properly. Cross-training in other specialties is taught primarily on the job.
Field exercises are held almost annually as the Seabees get the opportunity to test and relearn their skills in a simulated combat environment. These 10-day exercises are designed around the Bees attempting to accomplish a mission and aggressors trying to stop them. It is as realistic as you can get without actually being in combat.
The Seabees often invite the Marines to play the aggressive force. Whoever does the best job of completing their mission has bragging rights among the services.
A Seabee Rodeo is a time of intense competition between units, along with much fun and enjoyment. They compete with one another in skills ranging from rounding up barrels with bulldozers to wall scaling in full backpacks. It’s also a time for classes that bring the latest information and innovations to the personnel. The winners of the rodeos advance to compete in the National Seabee Rodeo held each year.
Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980 with articles in "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. He has managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. Burton holds a B.S. in broadcasting from John Brown University. He is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy/Navy Reserves and the Navy Seabees.
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