The Seabees refer to the construction battalions of the United States Navy. Historically, the Seabees have built bases, bulldozed, and paved airstrips and roadways. They have been operated in a number of different war-time theatres across the world, dating all the way back to the Second World War. The Seabees have long been known as the infrastructural backbone of our combat operations across the globe, subscribing to a simple motto of “Can Do!”
The Seabees inception can be traced back to the recommendation of the Rear Admiral Ben Moreell, who suggested to the Navy hierarchy that they would be well-served to establish Navy Construction Battalions at the Davisville, RI base. After the U.S. entered the war, he was given the resources to do so. The Navy Construction Training Center, known as Camp Endicott would train 100,000 Seabees during WWII alone. In all, nearly 330,000 Seabees served during the war, conducting construction operations on six continents and more than 300 islands in the South Pacific.
The Seabees were reorganized in 1947 and shuffled into the Naval Reserve. During the period following the war and demobilization, the Seabee construction battalions were reduced to only 3,300 active duty sailors. During the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War, Navy construction battalions were utilized but not to the extent of those during WWII. Some of the more unusual work performed by the Seabees in recent history included operations in Antarctica, repairing and modifying scientific bases on the continent. During the Gulf War of 1991, the Seabee battalions were utilized in the construction of bases for thousands of U.S. military personnel in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East.
The Seabees have been an important part of the United States rich military history. Without their efforts, the U.S. would not have the necessary infrastructure to conduct effective combat and other military operations throughout the world. Unfortunately, the nature of the Seabees duties often involved exposure to toxic substances that were used in different construction compounds. Among the more common substance that Seabees encountered was asbestos. Asbestos was an industrial insulation material that could be found in myriad different construction materials. Asbestos was later found to be carcinogenic and its use was discontinued in the late 1970s. However, for many pre-ban years prior, countless military personnel were exposed to this toxic material. Many of those exposed have been diagnosed with breathing problems later in life and even mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer known only to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Those exposed should complete the contact form on this page and learn more about possible options they may have if they were wrongfully exposed.
Last modified: December 09, 2009.