Unmatched view outweighs hassles of Yokosuka hill project
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — There are downsides to working hillside.
It’s difficult lumbering a cement truck up the steep, narrow grade and the wind whips unnervingly when you’re dangling from a rooftop.
But you can’t beat the view with a shovel, say the 10 worksite sailors of California-based Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4, currently assembling a building near the top of Yokosuka Naval Base’s Weather Station Hill.
“You can see Mount Fuji, the Tokyo bridge and almost the entire peninsula,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Sasser. “A sea hawk came flying by the other day when I was in the harness, but it didn’t mess with me.”
The detachment broke ground in January on a 2,200-square-foot prefabricated building for the Navy Center for Tactical Systems Interoperability.
Once it’s finished, the building will let NCTSI work closer to hilltop communication equipment, which should save some trips up and down the hill, said Petty Officer 2nd Class William Anderson.
But this project was unique in a few ways. For one, the two-story building is a Japanese design unlike any other the Seabees have worked with before.
“The construction blueprints were in Japanese and we had to get them translated,” Sasser said.
Pieces of the building fit together like Lego toys, Anderson said.
“It’s all done in blocks,” he said. “It’s going up a lot faster than usual.”
Hillside workspace is limited, too: On one side of the building, the Seabees are a mere two feet from the barbed-wire fence line.
Adding to the excitement was a cache of anti-aircraft ordnance found in February. The Seabees called base security, which cordoned off the area and got in touch with Explosive Ordnance Disposal, which removed the munitions.
“It was exciting and scary at the same time,” Sasser said. “You don’t know if it’s live ammunition or not, but you know it’s nothing to mess with.”
This group of Seabees, based at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., won’t see the final fruits of their labor: They’re here on a six-month contract that expires June 3. They said the next group, Mississippi-based NMCB 1, is to arrive later that month to finish the job by September.
In the meantime, the building quickly is becoming one of the high points in Seabee Apprentice Raymie Huddleston’s construction experience.
“I like working on the roof, even though it can get really windy up here,” Huddleston said. “The view is amazing.”