BY SEAMAN JOHN GRANDIN
ACB-1 worked with the PNG and Australian Defence Force personnel to provide engineering support to improve a local school, a water system, and strengthen relationships with local officials and citizens.
“We are working with host nation and Australian soldiers building a school and water tower to provide a place to learn and water for the facility,” said Lt Ajac Adams. “The water tower is complete, and now we’re just putting the finishing touches on the school.”
The team consisted of 40 people from ACB-1, a contingent of Australian army sappers, and a team of Papua New Guinean engineers. It took the multi-national team 23 days to complete construction of a new schoolhouse and a water tower, providing a new place for students to learn and fresh water for them to drink. The new building will support at least two seventh grade classes of roughly 30 students per class.
“We have a detachment that has been here in Lae for several weeks as well as a small detachment embarked aboard Cleveland. Together, we were able to get these projects done quickly and efficiently,” said Capt. Scott Lester, commanding officer of Amphibious Construction Battalion 1.
The Pacific Partnership team overcame several obstacles, including missing parts to a pre-engineered building, which provided some challenges to meeting their deadline.
Local Papua New Guineans lined up to help with the project, allowing the builders to learn about the community and teach local forces a little bit of what they know. The parents and children that will be using the school seemed especially grateful.
“You can see, driving around, that the people enjoy our presence. It is great to go somewhere where you are appreciated for what you are doing.” said Lester. “The team is exchanging construction skills and working together with the local people, and it’s nice to see all of us doing something positive, learning from each other, and working hard at it.”
Photo: US Navy Seabees take a break while building classrooms at the Bubia secondary school [Petty Officer 1st Class Eli J Medellin]
Source: US Department of Defense