Northwest Seabees prepare in Gulfport for deployment

Group expected to leave for Afghanistan in the summer



Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18 participated in a seven-day indoctrination, with the support of the Naval Mobilization Processing Site in Gulfport.

The process ran from March 22 to March 28 as part of a three-month training program.

“It’s a very challenging process,” said Cmdr. John DeBerard, commanding officer of NMCB 18. “It’s dependent on getting everybody in the right place at the right time, through medical, dental, (family) readiness, legal briefs and so forth.”

In addition to thorough screenings and paperwork, each individual was issued country-specific gear and required to attend in-theater briefs to familiarize themselves with their prospective deployment sites.

The battalion expects to be fully trained and ready to carry out whatever mission is assigned once it goes forward into its deployment site, DeBerard said. The Gulfport processing site is the initial stage to get the Seabees qualified to begin a more-detailed training phase, which includes field training at Camp Shelby.

NMCB 18 is being processed in and trained for a deployment to Afghanistan sometime this summer.

The Northwest Battalion, based out of Fort Lewis, Wash., draws Seabee reservists from various places in the U.S.

“We have 13 geographical detachments,” DeBerard said. “They range from Alaska, the state of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, northern California, Nevada, Montana and out into Guam.”

Normally, a battalion from that area would be processed and trained at Port Hueneme, Calif. But the command made a decision to bring NMCB 18 to Gulfport so they could go through training more quickly. Port Hueneme’s training schedule already was full and Gulfport had an opening.

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