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NEWS | Jan. 4, 2022

US Navy Seabees in Timor-Leste hold multinational ribbon-cutting ceremony

By Petty Officer 1st Class Stephane Belcher

U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5 host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a four-room schoolhouse in Baucau, Timor-Leste Dec. 10.

On Aug. 16, the Seabees started the project with a multinational crew of Timor Leste Defence Force and a combat engineer regiment of the Australian Army, the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment (CER). The close partnership fosters shared commitment to the development of Timor-Leste and bolstering military engineering.

"The crew crushed it day in and day out. You couldn't even tell it was the first project for some of them," said Builder 2nd Class Aaron Gagnon. "Getting the opportunity to work with host nation FDTL and 1 CER was crucial for our timelines. They played a huge role in this. I think the children and faculty are excited about the new schoolhouse. It's always a great feeling presenting something necessary to folks who'll get the most out of it."

In its entirety, the project totaled 734 man-days. It featured a 30' by 102' building consisting of 95 cubic meters of concrete and 3,000 concrete masonry units and electrical outlets and lights installed in all four rooms.

The U.S. Navy Seabees have had a continuous presence in Timor-Leste since 2009, rotating groups of American military engineers every six months, building educational facilities and health clinics in many parts of the country.

"There is truly no better indication of our commitment to helping Timor-Leste achieve a brighter tomorrow for its young people, and our friendship with Timor-Leste, than the opening of these new classrooms," said Thomas Daley, U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires. "This school project marks the 103rd project that the Navy Seabees have constructed or rehabilitated in Timor-Leste since 2009."

NMCB-5 Seabees are in Timor-Leste supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy by developing interoperability among partner nations and building long-term relationships that contribute to stability in the region.

The work of the U.S. Navy Seabees is just one of the many ways that the U.S. supports Timor-Leste in both good and challenging times. Since independence, the U.S. has provided over $500 million in cooperative projects that build a stronger, more self-reliant Timor-Leste.

The U.S. Navy Seabees with NMCB-5 are deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific, strengthening their alliances and partnerships, and providing general engineering and civil support to joint operational forces. Homeported out of Port Hueneme, California, NMCB-5 has 13 detail sites deployed throughout the U.S. and Indo-Pacific area of operations.