Seabees help maintain fleet readiness
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Seabees assigned to NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka’s Material Handling Equipment (MHE) Regional Management compound on board Yokosuka Naval Base completed equipment refurbishments July 11 in support of Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF).
A Seabee is a member of the United States Navy Construction Battalion (CB). The word "Seabee" comes from the initials "CB".
More than 70 years ago, approximately 30,000 men served with the Seabees in World War II, fighting and building on six continents and more than 300 islands. In the Pacific, where most of the construction work was needed, the Seabees landed soon after the Marines and built major airstrips, bridges, roads, warehouses, hospitals, gasoline storage tanks and housing.
Today, three Seabees: Construction Mechanic 1st Class Nicholas Mckenzie, Equipment Operator 1st Class Jason Brown and Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Marlon Patriz, serve their Navy customers with the same Seabee “Can Do” spirit leading them to provide mechanical expertise that fixes the problem and keeps the warfighter on target.
Recently these three Seabees led the way in refurbishing efforts on seven 20-foot refrigeration units that will provide backup refrigeration support for all FDNF ships and submarines that pull into Yokosuka.
“By having our refrigeration units ready for issue at all times we ensure that NAVSUP FLCY can provide cold storage service to all customers in a timely manner on a 24 hour clock,” said Mckenzie.
Still, this team of maintainers is has much more than refrigeration units to account for.
“We are responsible for the oversight management of 772 pieces of MHE for 46 different commands,” said Brown. “Every day we receive multiple phone calls with questions and problems and we take great pride in providing commands with the tools to maintain a proper MHE program, which enabling the fleet to deliver supply’s, HAZMAT and munitions.”
So how did these three fighting bees end up on the coastal shores of Japan helping to maintain fleet equipment?
Brown was born in Sandpoint, Idaho, high in the Rocky Mountains, 30-minutes from the Canadian border. His Grandfather owned Browns North Side Machine and Gear. He was his Grandfather’s shadow as he worked on heavy equipment.
“I spent my afternoons and weekends fetching tools and parts,” said Brown. “When I turned 12 I was put on the pay roll and had my own time card.”
“I graduated to doing oil changes on logging trucks and by the time I graduated High School I was working on fixing, welding and manufacturing parts for all types of equipment from tractors to airplanes,” added Brown.
Brown soon got a job with the Idaho Transportation Department as a Maintenance Night Supervisor where he spent seven years.
“I paved roads, built bridges and even plowed snow on the Fourth of July Pass,” said Brown.
But one day would change his life forever. On April 17, 2005 he was working on a Lock System Project at Farragut Naval Training Station, which is a former U.S. Navy training center located on Lake Pend Oreille in Bayview, Idaho. It’s there he met the Seabees for the first time.
“At the time I was inspecting the concrete being poured,” said Brown. “After trading stories of foreign travels and seeing their kinship I was sold and joined the United States Navy.”
For Patriz, the joy of turning wrenches came long before his military service as well. He gained his experience bolting high performance parts on a variety of cars and vehicles. Today, he finds the same joy helping the fleet.
“Making a difference gives me job satisfaction and motivation,” said Patriz. “We are a small division with a big job, finding solutions for the fleet.”
Our third maintainer also gained his skill through a family connection. Mckenzie, whose father operated an auto mechanic shop in New York, gave him his first experience repairing equipment but it was a family friend that would help bring Mckenzie to where he is today.
“A good friend of my dad decided to provide some mentorship by providing me information about the opportunities in the military,” said Mckenzie. “Based on his experience working with Navy Seabees in Vietnam he guided me towards my current path, which is proving to be the correct one so far.”
The fleet customers would agree it was the right path as well.
So whether these NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Seabees gained their skills high in the Rocky Mountains, building their own Fast & Furious creations or at an auto shop in the Big Apple, one thing is for certain…you put a problem in front of these three and it will be fixed.