Fort Leonard Wood turns Navy Seamen into Seabees Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 June 2013
From left to right: Seaman David Saenz and Petty Officer 1st Class James McIntosh watch Apprentice Seaman Shaquille Stepney hook up a trailer during the Navy Seabee’s Equipment Operation Phase of the construction course.
Story and photo by Melissa Buckley
GUIDON staff
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They arrive on post as Seamen — and leave as Seabees — thanks to the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering Detachment on Fort Leonard Wood.

“We are the construction force of the Navy. There is nothing a Seabee can’t and won’t do,” said Petty Officer 1st Class James McIntosh, Navy Uniques instructor.

The CSFE was established in 2003 to train U.S. Navy construction and facilities engineering professionals by providing them with the essential skills and knowledge to support career growth and Fleet readiness. Fort Leonard Wood’s CSFE Detachment is one of five subordinate commands in the United States.

One of the CSFE schools offered on post is the 13-week Equipment Operator A School. In the Navy, an A school teaches enlisted men and women their specific job skills. Also, instead of Military Occupational Specialty, the Navy calls their enlisted jobs, ratings. Similar ratings are placed into communities, such as Nuclear, Aviation or Seabees.

The students who graduate from the Equipment Operator A School will leave Fort Leonard Wood with an EO rating in the Seabee community.

“The EO A school is primarily like coming to Advanced Initial Training for the Navy,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Chip Fulbright, Equipment Operator Senior Chief(Seabee Combat Warfare), Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering Detachment Fort Leonard Wood senior enlisted leader.

The school provides training for entry level equipment operators, in Navy driver requirements, including: completing forms and reports, transportation duties, rules of the road, hand signals, operation and maintenance of material handling equipment, operation and maintenance of the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement dump truck and truck-tractor trailer.

“Successful completion of this course will enable graduating students to perform apprentice level tasks associated with the Equipment Operator rating in the field when assigned to a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion or another naval activity under peacetime, wartime and contingency conditions,” Fulbright said.

Some of the students that come to the EO A schools are classified as fleet returnees.

“They must reclassify to a new rating. These individual can be in the pay grades of E-3 to E-6,” Fulbright said. “There are a lot of reasons why a person would need a new job — one of the primary reasons is that a rating is overmanned or is closing and the individual needs to have a new rating to be retained in Naval Service.”

According to Fulbright, Students in the EO A School go through an indoctrination process that includes several classes that must be completed, such as Personal Financial Management, Healthy Lifestyles-Nutrition, Career Education, Core Values and Heritage training.

From that point the student enters the Inter-Service Training Review Organization. The first class the EO students go to is the Army Maintenance and Earthworks, where the prospective operators learn how to fill out various maintenance forms, perform various checks on equipment and to learn how to read engineering stakes.  

After this class, the operators then move on to the equipment operating phases. The Seamen learn to operate front-end loaders, backhoes, excavators, bulldozers, road graders and scrapers with the other military branches.

The EO A school was relocated from both Port Hueneme, Calif., and Gulfport, Miss., in May 1995 to assist in joint training for all services.  

“This makes for a great introduction into rank structure for other services as well as everyone learning the same way to do business. This has made our business with other services when we are forward deployed easier than it was in the past, as well as helping defray costs to all services that participate in joint endeavors,” Fulbright said.

According to McIntosh, working within ITRO makes his students more well-rounded service members when they enter the fleet.  

“One of the bonuses to having the detachment here is while on post our students get to learn the ranks, customs and courtesies, and heritage and tradition of the other branches. This will benefit them during campaigns and missions when they have to work together as a joint force,” McIntosh said.

After completion of the ITRO classes, the Navy students then start the Navy Uniques phase. During this time the Seamen learn the Navy specific equipment they will be operating including; forklifts, the dump trucks and tractor-trailers.

The final phase the students must complete is the Navy Crewmember course. This class gives the new Seabees a hands-on approach to learn how to plan and estimate projects, read blueprints and skills necessary to perform as a crewmember on a construction project.  

“Equipment Operators perform tasks involving deployment and operation of automotive, materials handling, weight lifting and construction equipment. They direct and coordinate efforts of individuals and crews in execution of construction, earth-moving, road building, quarrying, asphalt batching and paving, concrete batch plant operations, concrete paving and transit mixer operation assignments,” Fulbright said.

When it comes to graduation day the Seamen are given a new uniform with the coveted Seabee patch.

“It’s a badge of honor. It’s like being welcomed into a brotherhood that is unlike any other. Seabees may not always get along, but if one of our brother Seabees or shipmates is in trouble, we would drop everything to help them,” McIntosh said. “It’s a huge deal.”

McIntosh said his students are under a strenuous schedule and they are put to the test before earning the name “Seabee.”

“Earning this pocket is their goal,” McIntosh said.

This is true for Seaman David Saenz who said he’s always wanted to be a Seabee, specifically an Equipment Operator.

“I like to dig stuff up and make a mess. I’ve liked dump trucks since I was a kid, so now it’s like a giant toy. It’s cool to finally get to drive one,” Saenz said.

When Saenz attended boot camp last year he said there was Seabee memorabilia at his school, but nobody knew what it represented.

“Now I know it’s an honor. I didn’t understand what exactly a Seabee was until I got to Fort Leonard Wood. I’m very proud to be a part of this,” Saenz said. “Everybody here looks out for one another. I’ve worked in some cut-throat, dog-eat-dog places in the civilian world — here it’s like Family. I like that.”

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 19 June 2013 )