SAN DIEGO – The Seabee motto is “We build, we fight. For peace, with freedom”. The Sailors at Amphibious Construction Battalion One (ACB 1) represent that motto everywhere they go. From Inchon, during the Korean War, to Kuwait, during Operation Enduring Freedom, they have offloaded essential cargo needed for mission success.
Commissioned in 1943 as the 104th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB), ACB 1 has since served in every major conflict to face the United States. In 1947, the 104th NCB began its amphibious mission when it was tasked with building and placing pontoon structures, beach rehabilitation and harbor development.
When Adm. Forrest Sherman, the Chief of Naval Operations in 1950, saw the distinct mission of the 104th he renamed the battalion to Amphibious Construction Battalion One.
Today, ACB 1 provides ship-to-shore transportation of combat cargo, bulk fuel and water, called logistics over-the-shore (LOTS), for the Navy and Marine Corps amphibious force and Maritime Pre-positioned Force (MPF) operations. ACB 1 also provides tactical camp operations.
Of all the tasks ACB 1 can perform, her most sought after skill is the delivery of Marine Corps equipment and material. During the Korean War, ACB 1 built a pontoon causeway in Inchon Harbor to offload necessary combat equipment. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur crossed this same causeway.
Throughout the years, ACB 1’s Sailors have shown that they can perform ship-to-shore operations with extreme efficiency. For these operations today, ACB 1 still uses pontoon structures called the Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS).
“The INLS craft is the core of our mission and a critical piece to amphibious warfare”, said Capt. Eric Aaby, commanding officer of ACB 1. “There is nothing else like it in the Navy.”
ACB 1 Sailors continuously train on INLS Floating Causeway operations. ACB 1 Sailors assemble modular pontoon sections together and transit the causeway through the San Diego Bay to practice stabbing a beach.
“This is the most unique evolution in the Navy,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate (SW/SCW) Timothy Maguire, leading chief petty officer of the floating causeway evolution. “It is capable of worldwide deployment and can offload thousands of pieces of equipment on a relatively small beach.”
ACB 1 used similar pontoon causeways during the Vietnam War. Being the first Seabees on the ground, ACB 1’s Sailors were tasked with constructing a floating pier, transferring fuel and building special purpose structures.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in 2003, not only did ACB 1 and ACB 2 off-load 13 MPF ships, their Sailors also constructed the largest logistics support area (LSA) in ACB history. Camp Patriot, Kuwait, provided housing for more than 4,500 personnel.
In March of 2013, ACB 1 deployed to Pohang, South Korea in support of Combined Joint Logistics-Over-The-Shore (CJLOTS) 2013, where they constructed an LSA that provided support for more than 1,600 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen.
“I look at pictures of the tent camp in Korea and think ‘that’s just an insane amount of work that we have done,’” said Steelworker 2nd Class (SCW) Aaron Tamplin a Seabee assigned to ACB 1. “There is a lot of pride in seeing something like that get from zero to 100 percent.”
On the waterfront, ACB 1 also conducted ship-to-shore transportation of more than 220 pieces of cargo stock from the USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo (T-AK 3008) and the USNS Pililaau (T-AK 305).
Instead of using a floating causeway, ACB 1 built an INLS Roll-On/Roll-Off Discharge Facility (RRDF). Rolling equipment drives off the Maritime Pre-poisitioned Ships and onto the RRDF. From the RRDF, the equipment is then loaded onto an INLS Causeway Ferry or Landing Craft Unit (LCU), taken to a beach where it rolls down the ramp and drives directly onto the beach.
This unrivaled ability to effectively transport equipment from a ship to the shore and provide an LSA to support the modern battlefield makes ACB 1 a vital component of today’s Navy. With these vital skills, that no conventional Seabee battalion can provide, ACB 1 truly puts the “sea” in Seabee.
Capt. Aaby attributes the ‘Can Do’ attitude that drives his Sailors as the cause for him to say he is proud to be the commanding officer of ACB 1.