PORT HUENEME, Calif. - “We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for more than seven decades. The Navy Seabees are an elite group of personnel trained in both combat and the craft skills of the construction industry.
Petty Officer 1st Class Vanessa Bob, a native of Montebello, California, plays a key role in supporting those who build and fight around the world as a member of naval construction battalion center located in Port Hueneme, California.
Bob is serving as a Navy personnel specialist, who is responsible for sailors’ pay and service records.
“I am the personnel supervisor in charge of payroll for the unit,” Bob said.
Building in austere environments can be a challenge. Fighting in harsh conditions can also be a challenge. Building in austere environments while fighting in harsh conditions takes a special kind of person with a great deal of perseverance and determination, according to officials with the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command. These are the kinds of people being trained at Port Hueneme, to provide crucial support to Seabee units deployed around the world.
The jobs of some of the Seabees today have remained unchanged since World War II, when the Seabees paved the 10,000-mile road to victory for the allies in the Pacific and in Europe, said Lara Godbille, director of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum.
“I am a fleet sailor, so I enjoy having the opportunity to learn from how the Seabees operate,” Bob said.
Seabees have served in all American conflicts for nearly 80 years. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Bob is a 2004 Montebello High School graduate. According to Bob, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Montebello.
“I learned to always set a goal and don’t give up," said Bob. "Also, friends and family are always there to help out when you need it.”
Port Hueneme is the West Coast homeport of the Navy’s Seabees. It’s one of five learning sites in the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering domain. They train and develop sailors, soldiers, airman, and Marines in construction trades and military skills for Department of Defense operating forces to accomplish contingency and peacetime construction, chemical, biological, and radiological operations, and humanitarian assistance missions worldwide.
Port Hueneme and the men and women who serve there play a key role in the Navy’s broader mission of protecting American interests on the world’s oceans.
According to Navy officials, maintaining maritime superiority is a vital part of a Navy that is present today and prepared for tomorrow. The impact affects Americans and their interests around the world, as more than 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water and 90 percent of all trade travels by sea.
The foundation of the Navy the nation needs includes a focus on warfighting, warfighters and the future of the fighting force.
“I am confident that we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “We will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Bob is most proud of receiving a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for her work with the color guard in 2006.
“I was part of a team that honored those who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice,” Bob said. “This will always be a special memory in my career.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Bob, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“Being a part of the Seabee tradition means that I get to experience a unique side of the Navy most fleet sailors don't get to see,” Bob said.