How are the Seabees celebrating
the 75th anniversary of their
establishment during World War II?
SAUM: Rear Adm. Bret J. Muilenburg, chief of civil
engineers, was out to kick it off with the Seabee
Historical Foundation at the museum here in Port
Hueneme, Calif., and we had a great turnout for that.
There is a series of events that are going on around
the country, including Seabee Balls going on around
the world that will be big events. We’re expecting
about 1,300 people here for our ball. We’re taking
opportunities to talk to folks like you and looking for
opportunities for fleet weeks, like the one kicking off
in Gulfport, Miss., in the not-so-distant future.
What is the force structure of Naval
Construction Group One?
SAUM: We are a component of Navy Expeditionary
Combat Command [NECC], along with explosive ordnance disposal, coastal riverine and expeditionary
logistics forces. Now, for the Seabees, we have two
groups: Naval Construction Group One [NCG- 1] here in
the Pacific and then Naval Construction Group Two out
NCG- 1 falls under NECC-Pacific. Underneath NCG- 1,
we’ve got two regiments — one active, one Reserve. We
have six battalions — three active, three Reserve. There
is an underwater construction team. There also is a construction battalion maintenance unit out of San Diego;
that unit is half active duty, half Reserve.
Is your force structure adequate for
the tasks you are assigned?
SAUM: Yes. The C2 [command and control] structure
we have is that if we had to expand in the future, we
can certainly do that. Over time, the Seabees have
grown and shrunk based on the requirements of the
Navy and the nation. In World War II, we had 325,000
Seabees. In 1946, I think we were down to about 2,000
Seabees. We were at 3,500 before the Korean War; we
got up to about 14,000.
Recently, in OIF/OEF, we were up as high as 20,000
folks and, today, we’re at about 11,000. Based on what
We Build. We Fight.’
SEABEES CELEBRATE HERITAGE AS THE NAVY’S COMBAT CONSTRUCTION FORCE
As a Seabee combat warfare
officer, CAPT. MICHAEL R.
SAUM is the commodore of
Naval Construction Group One,
one of two such groups and the
major Seabee command in the
Pacific region. A civil engineer, he
began his career in a naval mobile
construction battalion and, from
there on, served in assignments that encompassed the
whole range of Seabee missions.
As a lieutenant junior grade, he was the first officer in
charge of Construction Battalion Unit 427 at San Diego.
After language training, Saum served as assistant resident
officer in charge of construction at Naval Air Station
Sigonella, Sicily. Qualifying as a diver, he served as diving
and littoral operations branch head at the Space and
Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego, from which he
supervised the installation of undersea systems.
Saum later commanded Underwater Construction Team
One, which deployed in support of Operations Enduring
Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OIF/OEF), theater security
cooperation in Europe and recovery efforts following Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina. He served at Naval
Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic and, later,
in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
He commanded Naval Mobile Construction Battalion
One, which deployed to Afghanistan conducting
contingency construction operations. Subsequently,
Saum served as public works officer at Joint Base Pearl
Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, and later as deputy commander for operations for Naval Facilities Engineering
Saum discussed the Seabees as they approached
their 75th anniversary with Managing Editor Richard
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