The 23rd Battalion was commissioned on 1 Sep 1942 as Naval Construction Battalion 23 (NCB 23). A month later, it was sent to the West Coast for embarkation for the war in the Northern Pacific, building and defending numerous bases. Areas of Operation included the Aleutian Islands chain including Kodiak Naval Base, the Naval Installation at Adak, Kisha, and Dutch Harbor. NCB 23 eventually moved to Pearl Harbor, Eniwotck, and then to Guam, its final wartime destination. In 1945, after the war ended NCB 23’s mission requirements, the battalion was decommissioned.
The 23rd was recommissioned in 1961 as Reserve Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 23 (RNMCB 23). Its first commanding officer was Commander Jerome Wyble and its first Permanent Drill Site (now called the Readiness Support Site) was located at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland. RNMCB 23 remained at this site until its move to Fort Belvoir, Virginia in November 1977. Its new Virginia headquarters buildings were dedicated in 1979 and have served as the “homeport” for the battalion ever since.
After its recommissioning in 1961 as an RNMCB, the 23rd repeatedly distinguished itself in both military and civilian service achievements while preparing for its military construction mission. Over the years, the 23rd has won the Battle “E” as selected by the 2nd Naval Construction Brigade a total of ten times – more than any other NMCB. The 23rd has also won the coveted RADM John R. Perry Award, a distinction making it the best reserve battalion in the Navy eight times.
The 23rd’s record, combined with its high state of mobilization readiness, led to its recall to active duty status in direct support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. At this time, RNMCB 23 was recommissioned as Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 23 (without the Reserve Designation in the name). The 23rd mobilized at Port Hueneme, California to once again embark for the Pacific Theater. The 23rd deployed to Camp Covington, Guam, and subsequently to Camp Shields, Okinawa from November 1990 through June 1991. Details were also deployed to Adak, Alaska, Midway Island, Sasebo, Misawa and Kami-Seya, Japan, and Poheng, Korea. The 23rd again served with distinction, providing contingency construction, disaster recover, and community service supporting the pacific region. NMCB 23 was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal as a unit for its assistance to the victims of Typhoon Russ, on Guam in December 1990.
In July 2004, 375 members of the battalion mobilized and deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom in support of the First Marine Expeditionary Force Engineering Group in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Detachments were located at Al Asad, Al Taquaddum, Al Fallujah, Ar Ramadi, and other locations in Iraq and Kuwait.
Those who have served with NCB 23, RNMCB 23, and NMCB 23 in the past and those continuing to serve today share a common bond of devotion to duty, to their country, and to their fellow Seabees. The 23rd will undoubtedly continue to exemplify the “Can Do” spirit as it continues to preserve its distinct place in the history of the Naval Construction Force.