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Seabees pour concrete during one of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1’s projects during the African Lion 2005 engineering exercise. Approximately 50 Seabees from the Gulfport, Miss.-based battalion are taking part in the bilateral exercise in Morocco for three months with engineering forces from that country.

Seabees pour concrete during one of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1’s projects during the African Lion 2005 engineering exercise. Approximately 50 Seabees from the Gulfport, Miss.-based battalion are taking part in the bilateral exercise in Morocco for three months with engineering forces from that country. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy)

Nearly 50 Navy Seabees temporarily at Naval Station Rota, Spain, are in Morocco for a three-month bilateral engineering exercise that has the sailors working on military and civilian facilities in the North African nation.

The sailors have been in southern Tan-Tan province working with Moroccan military engineers as part of the African Lion 2005 exercise since early March.

The Seabees are part of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 1 from Gulfport, Miss., but the unit is currently deployed to Rota for a regularly-scheduled six-month stint.

Detachment officer-in-charge Lt. Phillip Lemond said that the Seabees have already completed a number of projects.

“It’s been very busy,” he said, “but very rewarding.”

About $260,000 was earmarked for the construction of a firing range, towers and various other projects at the Cap Draa military training area and $200,000 for a five-room addition at a school in Tan-Tan, the provincial capital.

While building the classrooms, Lemond said, the Seabees were always under the watchful eye of the Moroccan students.

“The school can’t support the kids it has [with its current number of classrooms],” he said. “So they understand why we’re here. They fully appreciate what we’re doing.”

Lemond said that the construction projects, as varied as they are, aren’t the most difficult part of this deployment.

“Our biggest challenge was getting all the people and material down here,” he said.

Equipment was shipped to Morocco, then loaded onto vehicles for their 400-kilometer trip to their camp in Tan-Tan.

“This is probably the most remote area I’ve been to,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Holloman, a builder with the unit who has made three deployments with the Seabees.

“[But] it’s probably the best I’ve seen as far as the Seabee construction,” he said. “It’s second to none.”

The U.S. military in Europe has started to focus more on operations and exercises in Africa, which falls in the U.S. European Command’s area of responsibility.

Earlier this year the Sardinia-based USS Emory S. Land spent time in the central African Gulf of Guinea, working with various area navies.


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