Naval Construction Battalions
The Seabee logo
BranchU.S. Navy
TypeExpeditionary Forces
RoleMilitarized construction
  • 7,000+ active personnel
  • 6,927 Reserve personnel
  • Around 14,000 total
  • Latin: Construimus, Batuimus for "We build, We fight"
  • "Can Do"
Colors United States Navy
Anniversaries28 December 1941 requested
5 March 1942 authorized
EngagementsGuadalcanal, Bougainville, Cape Gloucester, Los Negros, Guam, Peleliu, Tarawa, Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, Philippines, Okinawa, North Africa, Sicily, Anzio, Normandy, Inchon landing, Khe Sanh, Dong Xaoi, Chu Lai, Con Thien, Desert Storm, Iraq War, and Enduring Freedom
Admiral Ben Moreell
CB Navy Yard Bougainville with the Seabee Expression
3rd Marine Div. 2nd Raider's sign on Bougainville. 53rd CB was the shore party to the 2nd Raiders of Green Beach, D-Day.

United States Naval Construction Battalions, better known as the Navy Seabees, form the U.S. Naval Construction Force (NCF). The Seabee nickname is a heterograph of the first letters "C B" from the words Construction Battalion.[1] Depending upon context "Seabee" can refer: all enlisted personnel in the USN's occupational field 7 (OF-7), all personnel in the Naval Construction Force (NCF), or Construction Battalion. Seabees serve both in and outside the NCF. During WWII they were plank-holders of both the Naval Combat Demolition Units and the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs). The men in the NCF considered these units to be "Seabee".[2] In addition, Seabees served as elements of Cubs, Lions, Acorns and the United States Marine Corps.[3] They also provided the manpower for the top secret CWS Flame Tank Group. Today the Seabees have many special task assignments starting with Camp David and the Naval Support Unit at the Department of State. Seabees serve under both Commanders of the Naval Surface Forces Atlantic/Pacific fleets as well as on many base Public Works and USN diving commands.

CEC Insignia
CEC Insignia
Supply Corps Insignia
Supply Corps Insignia
WWII Naval Officers assigned to Naval Construction Battalions from the Civil Engineer Corps, Medical Corps, Dental Corps and Supply Corps had a Silver Seabee on their Corps insignia. The WWII CEC insignia is used today as the emblem of the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation.

Naval Construction Battalions were conceived of as replacements to civilian construction companies in combat zones after the Pearl Harbor. At the time civilian contractors had roughly 70,000 men working U.S.N. contracts overseas. International law made it illegal for civilian workers to resist an attack. Doing so would classify them as guerrillas and could lead to summary execution.[4] That is exactly what happened at Wake[5] and would serve as the backstory to the WWII movie The Fighting Seabees.

Adm. Moreell's concept model CB was a USMC trained military equivalent of those civilian companies : able to work anywhere, under any conditions or circumstances.[6] It was realized that CBs were flexible, adaptable and could be utilized in every theater of operations. The use of USMC organization allowed for smooth co-ordination, integration or interface between NCF and Marine Corps elements. Additionally, CBs could be deployed individually or in multiples as the project scope and scale dictated. What distinguishes Seabees from Combat Engineers are the skill sets. Combat Engineering is but a sub-set in the Seabee toolbox. They have a storied legacy of creative field ingenuity,[7] stretching from Normandy and Okinawa to Iraq and Afghanistan. Adm. Ernest King wrote to the Seabees on their second anniversary, "Your ingenuity and fortitude have become a legend in the naval service."[8] Seabees believe that anything they are tasked with, they "Can Do". They were unique at conception and remain unchanged from Adm. Moreell's model today. In the October 1944 issue of Flying, the Seabees are described as "a phenomenon of World War II".[9] Since their creation, all Seabee advanced military training has been under USMC instruction. Even so, they always bring their toolbox. One of those tools is the ingenuity Admiral King referenced. They gained fame for their application of it during WWII. The UDTs and flamethrowing tanks are declassified top secret examples. Postwar they followed with more of the same for the CIA and State Department. Together with their USMC training and ability to appropriate anything, they provide the Navy an unconventional asset found nowhere else in the U.S military.

  1. ^ "Chapter VI: The Seabees". Building the Navy's Bases in World War II: History of the BuDocks and the CEC 1940–1946. Vol I. Washington, DC: U.S.GPO. 1947. Retrieved 18 October 2017 – via HyperWar.
  2. ^ 37th Seabees cruisebook, Seabee Museum Archives website, Port Hueneme, CA, Jan. 2020, p. 12-16
  3. ^ U.S. Marine Corps WWII Order of Battle, Gordon L. Rottman, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, 2002, p. 32
  4. ^ "Seabee History: Formation of the Seabees and World War II". NHHC. 2017. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  5. ^ Training the Fighting Seabees of WWII at Camp Peary, Daily Press, E-newspaper 3 Dec 2017, Mark St. John Erickson, Newport News, VA.[1]
  6. ^ "Admiral Ben Moreell, CEC, USN". Seabee Museum and Memorial Park. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  7. ^ Coca-Cola and the Art of Seabee Acquisition, Seabee Museum, Seabee Museum website, Port Hueneme, CA.[2]
  8. ^ "SeaBees Name and Insignia Officially Authorized". Naval History Blog. U.S. Naval Institute. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  9. ^ "The Seabees". Flying (magazine). Vol. 35 no. 4. October 1944. p. 261. Retrieved 18 October 2017.