By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Collin Turner, NMCB 11 Public Affairs Office
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 conducted a 48-hour Mount-Out Exercise (MOX) and a Field Training Exercise (FTX) onboard Naval Station Rota, Spain, Dec. 13-17.
“This exercise was a test to our readiness and ability to respond to a short-notice order,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Colocar, NMCB-11’s Air Detachment officer-in charge.
The MOX simulates the battalion’s ability to deploy their 89-person Air Detachment (AirDet) within 48 hours to support missions required by a supported commander. The mission could range from major combat operations to humanitarian and disaster relief. The MOX requires moving heavy construction equipment and large quantities of support materials to a designated location for air or sea transport.
In the case of this exercise, NMCB-11 transported their material and equipment to the pier at Naval Station Rota and embarked USNS Yuma (T-EPF 8), a Spearhead-class expeditionary fast-transport ship; testing their ability to embark a vessel and simulate getting underway.
“The Yuma presented its own set of challenges, different from what we were use to,” said Lt. j.g. Samuel Boykin, NMCB-11’s Embarkation Officer. “We had never load planned a ship [before], so trying to figure out what would fit and how to load plan it provided the hardest challenge.”
The embark team conducted a series of tasks, from weighting and balancing, shoring, palletizing materials, collecting data for each piece of equipment, and prioritizing the order of shipment in a staging area.
The evolution requires coordination and teamwork to build pallets and to weigh and measure each piece of equipment to locate its center of balance. Load planners input the information into a computer program called Transportation Coordinators’ Automated Information for Movements System (TCAIMS) to determine where everything will be placed on the ship. If the load is not properly planned, it could lead to an unbalanced load and endanger the crew of the ship and embarked personnel.
“By conducting the exercise and loading the USNS Yuma, we learned how it is loaded, and the [ships] true capacity which will help us when doing large load outs in the future,” said Boykin.
After spending the night on the ship, NMCB-11’s AirDet began the process of disembarking the ship in preparation for their convoy to the location of their FTX on Camp Mitchell, Naval Station Rota.
FTX is an around the clock exercise which tests a battalion’s capability to perform scheduled tasking in the midst of extreme adversity. Construction operations are accomplished under constant hostile activity as aggressors and role players attempt to penetrate battalion defenses and disrupt the battalion’s momentum. The Seabees, in this environment, see very long days as watchstanders, construction workers, and defensive security elements. For Seabees, the primary mission is contingency construction, but they must also be ready to defend their camp and accompanying assets at all times.
Traditionally, FTX is used by a battalion while in homeport to assess a unit’s readiness and certify them as “mission ready” for future tasking. While NMCB-11 is not currently homeported but rather forward deployed to Spain, command leadership used the typically slower-paced month of December to enhance the battalion’s warfighting capabilities.
During the three-day mini FTX, the battalion erected a medium girder bridge, a 15 foot timber tower, a berm for defensive purpose, prepared for AM-2 aluminum matting on a simulated runway, as well as the permanent construction of a Southwest Asia Hut off-site in Moron, Spain, in support of the U.S. Marine Corps personnel stationed there.
Homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi, NMCB-11 is part of the Naval Construction Force (NCF). The NCF is a vital component of the U.S. Maritime Strategy and is comprised of deployable battalions capable of providing contingency construction, disaster preparation and recovery support, humanitarian assistance, and combat operations support in support of regional partners and combatant commanders.
NMCB-11 is currently forward deployed to Rota, Spain in support of commander, Task Force (CTF) 68 and will remain deployed until they are relieved early next year.
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