Seabees Complete Airfield Damage Repair with New Technology

Technology > New Technology

On May 18, 2017, U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4 successfully finished an Airfield Damage Repair (ADR) mission in the midst of their Field Training Exercise (FTX) in Fort Hunter Liggett, California.

NMCB tested their ability to fix runways after a simulated attack. NMCB 4 aids the Navy, Marine Corps and joint operational forces by providing general engineering, disaster relief, civil support and humanitarian help. 

Lt. J.G. Ian Jordan said “Our capabilities allow us to move quickly to various locations around the world to repair runways so aircraft can land safely and project a powerful forward force wherever we fight...We have a distinctive ability to do expeditionary ADR the way we do and we are expanding this ability by adopting new techniques and technologies we have learned from our Air Force counterparts.”

Training evaluations that have taken place in the past include a 12-hour standalone project that involved 104 Seabees. Enhancing interoperability within the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) utilizes advanced technology in construction techniques. Over the course of three days, 154 Seabees from NMCB 4 searched a runway and filled 79 spalls and nine craters within 16 hours with the collaborative help of Sailors from Costal Riverine Group (CRG) 1 and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3. 

Lt. Jeremiah Gill stated “The ultimate goal for the evolution was to improve efficiency by reducing the time it takes to complete airfield repairs; to advance technologies by providing input and recommendations to higher on the different equipment and materials; and to gain a joint operating picture with other units to ultimately establish a tactical training procedure for the Naval Construction Force to utilize.” 

After the simulated attack occurred, members of CRG 1 started the mission surveying the runway to determine the damage by deploying an RQ020B Pointer Upgraded Mission Ability (PUMA) AE Small Unmanned Aircraft System. PUMA enabled EOD Sailors to figure out the degree of debris to focus on the security precautions that would be necessary.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician 1st Class Joseph Moritz said “Our role in the ADR mission was to support and assist the Seabees in clearing the airfield of any ordnance left from an attack,” said Moritz. “We supervised the range clearing operation, removed ordinance that needed to be taken care of and developed a plan for moving forward so NMCB 4 could accomplish their mission of repairing the damages on the runway.”

The Minimal Operating Strip (MOS) selection team then went about assessing the damage and figured out which type of aircraft would need the runway, and they chose the area with the least amount of damage for fast repairs. NMCB 4’s ADR team then fixed multiple craters by putting in bolted fiberglass panels over two craters and placing concrete patches over seven craters. 

Source: Author: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge