The Fighting Seabees

I love these old wartime propaganda films.


The Seabees, a play on their official designation as Construction Battalions (CB=Seabees, get it?) were roughly analogous to the Engineer Construction Battalions and Aviation Engineer Battalions of the Army Corps of Engineers in World War II.

What they weren’t analogous to were the Engineer Combat Battalions of the Army.  ECBs were an integral part of the maneuver forces at divisional and higher level, providing mobility, countermobility, and survivability support to the combat units.

CBs, on the other hand, were just what their name said, construction battalions. As the film shows, they could transform a coral atoll into a functional airfield in less than a week. And while the Marines purpose in life in WWII was to seize advanced naval bases on the road to Tokyo, until the CBs worked their magic, those outposts were of little use to the Navy. But after they turned to, many of the Navy’s outposts along the vast reaches of the Pacific had the capability to perform almost any repair or overhaul work, to include drydocking virtually every ship class save the Essex carriers.

Seabees still serve in today’s Navy, providing the skills and manpower to build bases in far flung regions of the world.

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