Can Do! U.S. Navy Seabees

The Seabees are one of the Navy’s most elite units. They were first put together during WWII and were developed to do every kind of construction work that was necessary to keep America’s fighting forces housed, supplied, and capable both in the rear and at the front.

The role that the Seabees play in the Navy is unique and very important. They are trained in every kind of professional skill that is necessary to meet the complexities of modern construction techniques. They are carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and steel workers. They are as skilled with hammers and nails as they are with the most sophisticated of heavy machinery. Because of this, they can build any kind of building that the military ground and air forces need, from barracks to hospitals to airstrips, and they can do it all with professional efficiency and expertise.

Photo: YouTube/SeabeeMuseum

The video you will see here was done during the Vietnam War. This is where I first encountered Seabees in action, as there was a unit of them with us at Khe Sanh during the 77-day-long siege from January 21 to April 9, 1968. My unit, Bravo Co. 3rd Recon, 3rd Mar. Div., was located next to the Seabee bunkers and trenches. They were there at Khe Sanh to build, then to maintain and repair, the airstrip, among other things. I can tell you that they were kept very busy repairing that airstrip and many other things on the base during the siege. They were very involved with building the infrastructure of the base before the siege, and they were very helpful with building materials and construction advice during the siege.

One of the most interesting elements of Navy Seabees is that they are as tough and efficient as warfighters too. The training in construction skills is second to none, but they are trained in the use of various weapons and tactics of warfare as well, because in wartime, they are just as often as not right at the battlefront, building, guarding, and defending the bases they are building for the front line troops. Their reputation and skill as builders is matched by their skill as fighters. One of their strongest skills is their ability to improvise and to adapt to whatever situations they find themselves in. Their motto is “Can Do! We Build, We Fight!” And that is a fact!

Photo: YouTube/SeabeeMuseum

But the Seabees, from their beginning, have another side to their nature as well. They bring their sophisticated skills to the service of communities all around the world. Their reputation for developing civic action programs is second to none. They not only bring expertise in construction skills, but they work closely with civilian populations to teach them skills that can be adapted to the local realities. They engage locals in their own development in civic action programs, like the ones you will see in this video.

Currently, Seabee units are working with local people all around the world, helping to build local infrastructure, hospitals, schools and many other projects that help community development.

Photo: YouTube/SeabeeMuseum

Navy Mobile Construction Battalions, also known as Seabees, are one of the United States Navy’s greatest assets. They are, as their title suggests, highly mobile. They can be brought anywhere in the world quickly, and they are as important in the Navy’s warfighting effort as they are as an effective force for building long-lasting relationships between nations through their unique and professional construction skills.

The men and women who serve in the United States Navy’s Seabees are the best of the best. They live their motto, “Can Do!” with distinction every day. Bravo Zulu, Seabees! Honor, Respect, and our Thanks for all that you do.

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