Joint Effort at Eustis Moves Navy Construction Battalion from Atlantic to Pacific
While U.S. Army mariners and a U.S. Navy construction unit may sound like the opposite of expected land and sea operations, this seemingly uncommon pair worked a single mission together. A joint U.S. Army and U.S. Navy logistics effort combining maritime and rail moved the Amphibious Construction Battalion 2 (ACB 2), a Naval Construction Battalion, from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia, across the country to California, in conjunction with the planned decommissioning of the battalion Dec. 1-9.
U.S. Army Landing Craft Utility (LCU) and Logistics Support Vessels (LSV) picked up bulldozers and other large pieces of cargo at Little Creek and shipped the equipment up the James River to Fort Eustis, where 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), 11th Transportation Battalion Soldiers, in conjunction with the ABC 2 Sailors, loaded the cargo on flat bed rail cars for the next leg of the trip.
This is not the first time the two units have partnered together. Both recently worked together in Albania at Joint Logistics Over the Shore 2021, an annual joint logistics exercise. The partnership further educated both the Sailors and Soldiers as to the realms and military cultures of one another. Seabee is the colloquial term used for a Navy Construction Battalion or “CB.”
“At first when I saw the Seabees, I didn’t know what a Seabee was, until they broke it down to me, and it is pretty much like Army Engineers, just for the Navy,” said Sgt. Demarcus Boatwright, a U.S. Army movements noncommissioned officer with, 11th Transportation, 7th TBX.
From not knowing the term Seabee to today, Boatwright spoke of the relationship building they have had in the years working together.
“It was a good experience working with them, those guys really know their job, they work at a fast pace, and like to get the job done, but take all the safety measures too while they get the job done,” said Boatwright. “They are our sister unit in uniform, and they are pushing from one part of the country to the other side. Now that they are going away, we will have to build that relationship with someone else but building that relationship might not be that easy or as fast as we did with the Seabees in ACB 2 and ACB 1.”
Although some terms may be different, the workload and mission are the same.
“The mission of ACB 2 really aligns with ours in terms of how we facilitate that same role of port operations,” said 1st Lt. Jacob Wells, movements officer with 11th Transportation Battalion.
According to Battease, the two units are paired in their normal missions. “We are closest to the units under 7th TBX in how 10th and 11th Transportation Battalions support the world with,” he said. “We pair our skill set in the watercraft and transportation and camp building with what the Army does with small vessels, so LSV, LCU support, and combined we make a JLOTS, and that can be cargo moving fuel, or moving water.”
For example, Battease said, as a combined unit they can pump 7000 gallons of fuel a day, and then onward move that to any logistics fighting force.
“Sgt. Boatwright and I have been working together for years, not just now. As you work together, the interoperability and the cross-training of the services changes, and you build friendships,” he said. “You build a good teamwork and camaraderie between the services and you become family at the end of it.”
According to Battease, the battalion is ahead of schedule.
“We are up against hard timelines,” he said. “We factored in three weeks to support this evolution and to be this far ahead and have cargo come from JB Little Creek to here is a feat within itself, even with the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel and getting it here on site, staged and ready to go, which is a third of the complex stuff … internally, we are on time to be on schedule. Being ready to go before the civilian rail gets here isn’t a bad way to be.”
As ACB 2 pushes towards the inevitable decommissioning, some questions about future operations in the region will need to be solved in new ways.
“There will still be JLOTS and Mini LOTS here, ACB 1 will have to coordinate to bring Sailors out here, there just won’t be Navy craft,” Battease said.
Story and US Air Force photo by Crista Mary Mack