On August 12th, 11 NCB departed on a two week cruise for Island “X” in the Pacific, Pago Harbor Tutuila, and Samoa. Projects included 600,000 cubic yards of earth fill to form the base of the industrial area, creation of a command post, oil storage tanks, maintenance shops, taxiways and air strip extensions.
After hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of earth were moved, hundreds of bridges and docks constructed and all the work to erect an 11,000 man city, peace broke out and 11 NCB was formally decommissioned on December 1, 1945.
NMCB 11, also referred to as MCB 11, was recommissioned in July 1953 during the waning days of the Korean War as “The Newest Battalion in Existence” under the command of LCDR Allison Froman. By November, the Battalion had arrived at Cubi Point, Luzon, Philippines, under the command of LCDR James C. Castanes, and continued work on the removal of a mountain known as the rock. Some 2 million man-hours would eventually be spent to finish the project. Excess dirt and rock from the project was ideal for building and expanding the 10,000 foot runway on the base. NMCB 11 managed to set the record for the number of piles driven, for piers, in a single day.
The base at Adak, Alaska was severely damaged on March 9, 1957 by a 9.1 magnitude earthquake followed by three days of 7.0 or greater aftershocks. Runways and roads were devastated. One of the main roads suffered a 14 foot crack and two major bridges were destroyed. NMCB 11 arrived on April 6 to repair the devastation and repaired everything from piers to the base housing that had been demolished. All projects undertaken were successfully completed within the six month deployment.
In October 1959, the Battalion’s main body boarded the USS General J.C. Breckenridge (AP-176) bound for Okinawa where they built permanent staging facilities for the U.S. Marine Corps. The facilities included five 100 x 400 foot warehouses, a pair of engineer shop buildings, a motor transport shop, one ordinance shop, a supply and administrative building, a central head, wash racks, retaining walls and electrical services.
On December 17, 1965, NMCB 11 was awarded the Battle Efficiency Award, commonly referred to as the Battle “E”, for the fourth time in five years for its outstanding deployment to Okinawa. During this homeport the Battalion received 16 weeks of intensive training, two of which were spent in SERE training to include: counter–insurgency, foreign languages, blasting and quarrying and field communications. Three STAT Teams, 1103, 1104 and 1105, were deployed to Vietnam and Thailand with U.S. Army Special Forces. Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Marvin G. Shields served with Seabee Team 1104 at Dong Xoai, South Vietnam. On June 9, 1965 a Viet Cong Regiment attacked. After being wounded in the initial mortar attack he continued to supply ammunition to the firing line. Shields was wounded a second time and then carried a critically wounded soldier, Captain William N. Stokes III, to safety. In the early morning hours of June 10, Shields volunteered to help First Lieutenant Charles Williams, the acting camp Commander, knock out a Viet Cong machine gun emplacement, located in a nearby school building. Under heavy enemy fire the two men were able to knock out the gun on the third shot from the 3.5 inch rocket launcher. While returning to his fighting position, machine gun fire struck Shields in his right leg nearly tearing it off. He managed to make it back to the headquarters building with the help from some fellow troops where he expired due to his wounds. Both First Lieutenant Williams and Petty Officer Shields received the Medal of Honor for the destruction of the machine gun emplacement. Shields was the only Medal of Honor recipient for the Seabees and the first awarded to the Navy in Vietnam. LTJG Frank Peterlin, CEC, USN and Equipment Operator Chief Johnny McCully received the Silver Star. The remaining men all received the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and Navy Unit Commendation. Steel Worker 2nd Class William C. Hoover was awarded posthumously.
In February 1966, NMCB 11 became the first battalion to be flown into the Vietnam’s combat zone on a C-141 arriving at Camp Adenir, Danang East. After landing, they took over NMCB-9’s expansion and improvement of the Naval Hospital constructing an x-ray building, fire station, generator building, several Quonset-type wards, and improving roads and parking areas. Other construction included drilling wells to blast and expand the Danang Harbor, keeping it clear for shipping, and completing a 420,000 gallon POL tank to hold jet fuel necessary for helicopters which were crucial in U.S. operations. While under enemy sniper fire, NMCB 11’s Seabees built a Marine cantonment camp deep in hostile territory which included strong-back and tin roof buildings for berthing and other support facilities.
Between the years of 1967 and 1969, the “Lucky Eleventh” was deployed to Vietnam for four consecutive tours. In the early summer of 1967, NMCB 11 became the first battalion to be deployed to the Northern I Corps at the Dong Ha Forward Combat Base, Vietnam. The advanced party began construction at Camp Barnes on April 10 erecting berthing tents, stringing a barbed wire perimeter, and laying a pipeline for a new galley. Upon the main body arrival, construction commenced on a permanent area for Fleet Logistic Support Unit (FLSU) One at Dong Ha including a cold storage unit, administration and communication facilities, and a cantonment camp. Projects also included runway reconstruction and airfield lighting at Khe Sanh, helicopter revetments and parking pads, and numerous tasks supporting construction and militaristic activities. NMCB 11 also constructed more than twenty 50’ observation towers in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). During the deployment, the Battalion received 138 attacks involving rockets, ambushes, snipers, and mines sustaining 64 WIA and 5 KIA.
From May 1968 to January 1969, NMCB 11 was deployed to Camp Rhodes, Quang Tri, Vietnam. The focus on the deployment was roadwork involving new construction, repair, and maintenance for National Routes 1 and 9. The Battalion constructed 7.5 miles of new road and built 4 bridges spanning 40’, 80’, 160’, and 392’. The largest task was the Minimum Essential Requirements (MER) project which was geared toward the improvement of living conditions for combat units. The NMCB 11 Seabees built over 2000 structures consisting of tropical huts, shower facilities, and galleys reaching a total cost of $1.7 million (present day cost of $90 million).
The last of the four deployments to Vietnam for NMCB 11 was from June to December 1969. About two-thirds of the Battalion was deployed to Camp Haines, Hue-Phu Bai, Vietnam (located at Camp Evans cantonment camp) while the other third went to Okinawa and Guam. Vietnam construction primarily consisted of roadwork and bridgework. While working with NMCB 5 to ready and pave a four mile stretch of new road, NMCB 11 crushed more than 10,000 tons of rock each week to support road projects in Vietnam. Typhoon Cora hit Okinawa in August 1969 damaging much of its infrastructure. Seabees acted quickly to restore utilities and repair damaged buildings and roads. In the early morning hours of 07 August 1969, an Army mortar platoon was laying down some supporting fire when sparks from a mortar tube ignited a near by ammunition store. Seven NMCB 11 Seabees fought the fires and explosions including CM1 Milford Tognazzini who was killed in action by shrapnel from an exploding vehicle. Several others were wounded. CM1 Tognazzini was posthumously awarded the Soldier’s Medal and the Purple Heart.
Shortly after the Battalion pulled out of Vietnam and Guam in early December, NMCB 11 was decommissioned in Port Hueneme on 15 December 1969, leaving behind a legacy of contingency construction and support.
NMCB 11 was recommissioned on 14 September, 2007 in an attempt to meet the overwhelming demand for Naval Construction Forces (NCF) throughout the world. Classified as the first “SMART Battalion”, NMCB 11 is leading the way with many of the new initiatives and changes being implemented to improve NCF operations.
NMCB 11 returned from its first deployment in almost 40 years in August of 2009. The 'Bees of 11 went above and beyond the expectations of their Higher HQ's in mulitple AOR's during their deployment to Africa, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Jamaica, Romania, Ukraine and several other locations in support of Operations' Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.