Dili – The U.S. Navy Seabees have been a visible sign of U.S. cooperation with Timor-Leste since 2009. Their work continues without pause as one detachment departs and another arrives in Timor-Leste. U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Four (NMCB4) officially ended their tour on April 9, 2018. NMCB5 – the incoming U.S. Navy Seabees Detachment – officially started operations that same day. In a change of charge ceremony at the Seabees’ Camp Lenhoff in Dili, NMCB4 Officer in Charge (OIC) Lieutenant Daniel McCarthy turned over duties to NMCB5 OIC Lieutenant Gafar Odufuye. U.S. Ambassador to Timor-Leste Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick welcomed NMCB5, noting that they “continue the legacy of cooperation and development that will strengthen the relationship between the United States and Timor-Leste.” She congratulated NMCB4 on a job well done.
Over the last six months, the Seabees completed three main infrastructure projects. Along with the III Marine Expedition Force, the Australian Defense Force, and F-FDTL, the Seabees worked to construct the Sidara Health Clinic in Matebien, Baucau in November 2017 as part of a trilateral engineering exercise with Timor-Leste and Australia during HARII HAMUTUK 17. The clinic provides quality healthcare to approximately 16,000 people. The Seabees constructed a three-room educational facility at Liquica Primary School in January 2018. Approximately 1,800 students benefit from the new learning space, which also improved health and safety conditions at the previously dilapidated school. The Seabees also collaborated with F-FDTL and local volunteers to complete construction of the Uma Kaduak Health Center in March 2018. The facility provides better access to medical care for 3,500 people living near Uma Kaduak, Manututo.
NMCB5 immediately started their tour by breaking ground on the EBC Fatumeta School, beginning the next chapter of the U.S. Navy Seabees’ great work in Timor-Leste.