By Lt. Andrew Williamson
U.S. Navy Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) Eleven Detail Ukraine executed the first humanitarian assistance construction (HCA) project for a school in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, July 26, 2021.
The small-scale project involved widening the door opening, demolishing interior concrete masonry walls, and renovating the interior of a 7.5 square meter bathroom at the Mykolaiv Central City Technical School. This created a unisex, handicap-accessible restroom facility on the ground floor, so that the school can meet Ukrainian National Inclusive Education Program act requirements. Renovation work included masonry, utilities, and interior finish work.
“The best part about this project was knowing that we made a change for future Ukrainian children with disabilities. It makes me so happy,” said Builder Second Class Megan Schultz, Project Crew Leader.
Smaller scale HCA projects are great opportunities for U.S. Navy Seabees to assist the local community’s needs and fit within the Detail’s main construction efforts of supporting new infrastructure for Ukrainian Military forces. The existing bathroom was very tight, restrictive, and inaccessible for a wheelchair to get into the room or maneuver freely. This project took multiple trades to complete, allowing the crew’s various rates not only to hone their skills, but also to deliver a quality, functional, and handicapped accessible compliant bathroom facility that future students and teachers in need will have access to.
“Being in a small space we were forced to learn something new every day. One day the electrician would be doing a builder’s job and vice versa,” said Project Supervisor Builder Second Class Jacqueline Baimbridge, discussing the challenges and unknowns during the renovation. “Watching my crew come together to accomplish a goal and creating a handicap accessible bathroom for children was very heart warming and an amazing experience.”
NMCB 11 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.