By Lt. j.g. Tyson McClellan, OIC of deployed NMCB 113 Det.
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 Detail Ukraine continues Exercise Related Construction (ERC) operations in support of Exercise Sea Breeze.
The det. has completed a number of construction projects, while continuing additional products that support the jointly-hosted maritime exercise, which is the largest annual maritime exercise conducted in the Black Sea.
The detail deployed to Mykolaiv, Ukraine operate as a task-tailored element, providing force protection upgrade construction support to a Ukrainian Ministry of Defense installation. The det. overcame a number of challenges related to operating in a COVID-19 environment, as well as a number of challenging weather conditions in order to meet its project timeline.
“I could not ask for a more motivated, professional, and technically competent team of Seabees to carry out this work,” said Lt. j.g. Tyson McClellan, officer-in-charge of deployed NMCB 113 Det. “We emphasized safety and quality during our time here and succeeded. The impacts of COVID-19 and nature of operating as an over the horizon detail certainly caused a variance in projected versus actual end results, but the progress we have made here lays the keel for both ongoing and future accomplishments in Ukraine.”
Demonstrating their adaptability and flexibility, the Seabees in Mykolaiv worked in sweltering heat and frigid cold, conducting survey operations, placing concrete, and installing various force protection elements as part of the force protection project.
According to Chargé d’Affaires Kristina A. Kvien, the NMCB detail’s construction work demonstrates the strong partnership between the United States and Ukraine. The United States remains committed to building the capacity of the Ukrainian military to effectively defend against Russian aggression.
When asked about his thoughts on the work the Detail completed, Equipment Operator Constructionman Tinney replied, “We came, we did our job, overcame logistical challenges, and provided the Ukrainian military with the infrastructure they need.”
The force protection project is nearing completion, and the site for a soon-to-commence vehicle maintenance facility project is in the final stages of clearing and grading. Upon completion, the force protection upgrade project will be turned over to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, further strengthening the U.S. and Ukraine partnership.
Members of the detail also progressed their professional qualifications, such as Seabee Combat Warfare (SCW) and Expeditionary Warfare (EXW) qualifications. Program coordinators facilitated a number of qualification review boards, while also balancing a busy operations-focused battle rhythm with professional warfare development. The end result was a remarkable 100 percent of enlisted members obtaining their SCW and EXW qualifications.
"The efforts of NMCB 133 have been nothing short of outstanding,” said Cmdr. Daniel Marzluff, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Sixth Fleet Black Sea/East Med Desk Officer. “Their work in Mykolaiv and their overall support to Ukraine has been recognized at the highest levels of the Ukrainian Navy and the Detail has continued to build upon the exceptional relationship we enjoy with our Ukrainian hosts."
NMCB 133 is homeported in Gulfport, Mississippi, and forward deployed to Rota, Spain, with details and detachments deployed across five combatant commander areas of responsibility to provide an adaptive and scalable Naval Construction Force ready and capable of executing quality construction in combat or in support of civic action, humanitarian assistance, or disaster recovery.
Commander, Task Force (CTF) 68 commands all Naval Expeditionary Forces in U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility in direct support of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet Maritime and Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) Strategies and Maritime Support Plans.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security, and stability in Europe and Africa.