Deployment For Training Latvia departs Rota in Support of BALTOPS 2010

ROTA, Spain — A Seabee assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 prepares materials for shipment to support a detachment of NMCB-7 Seabees deploying to Latvia. NMCB-7 and its detachments are deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility to provide construction and engineering support. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Yan Kennon)

ROTA, Spain — Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 departed Rota, Spain, March 23 in support of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2010.

The detachment, comprised of 24 highly skilled Seabees, will be tasked with conducting various exercise construction projects in support of the 4th Marine operating at their Deployment For Training (DFT) site in Latvia.

Originally started in 1971, BALTOPS is an operation sponsored by Commander, United States European Command, and is an exercise aimed to promote a mutual understanding of maritime interoperability between U.S. Navy, NATO, and non-NATO participants.

"Our production tempo will be very high," said Ensign Liwei Chen, DFT Latvia's officer in charge. "We have to complete all assigned projects within a two month window, prior to the Marines arriving on station."

DFT Latvia's two primary projects are to construct a five acre gravel laydown pad, to be located at base camp, and a dune cut which will enable Marine tanks to be offloaded with minimal damage to surrounding forests.

Some of the challenges the detachment may face; however, will be outside of their control.

"Weather conditions will be one of the biggest challenges that we will face," said Chen. "Due to the cold temperatures, we have to take certain preventive measures to ensure quality construction especially when working with fuel and concrete. Cold weather exposure will also require continuous monitoring to ensure the safety of our Seabees."

"Through extensive training during our homeport period, we are well prepared for this mission and we are excited to execute," Chen added.

Seabees from NMCB 7 recently deployed from Gulfport, Miss., to various locations throughout Europe and Africa as part of the battalion's regularly scheduled 2010 deployment, with the main body of the battalion operating from Camp Mitchell at Naval Station Rota. Nearly a month prior to its scheduled deployment, the battalion deployed an air detachment of 85 Seabees to assist in Operation Unified Response, in response to the 7.0 earthquake that struck the country of Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010.

NMCB 7, often referred to as the "Magnificent Seven," is one of the original 10 Seabee battalions authorized by the Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks, in 1942. The battalion is homeported in Gulfport, Miss., and is comprised of approximately 600 highly skilled warfighters.

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