The Seabees saved the American Forces Network Broadcast Center, located at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., roughly $130,000 in contracting costs by craning a diesel fuel tank to a new location within the facility.
Six Sailors from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 4 in Port Hueneme brought in a crane to move the 16,000-pound tank at the AFN BC facility, in support of the installation of a new emergency generator.
The AFN BC broadcasts 11 channels of television and 10 channels of radio via satellite 24 hours a day, seven days a week, around the world to nearly one million viewers and listeners in 173 countries and onboard dozens of deployed U.S. Navy ships. The fuel tank and generator will ensure that the AFN BC will be able to maintain its satellite feeds to overseas military, civilian government workers, retirees and their families in all but the worst of natural disasters.
“We needed to move the fuel tank to a better location to feed the new generator,” said AFN BC’s Deputy Director, Army Lt. Col. John Clearwater. “Initially, we received an original quote for $35,000 but, that ballooned to $131,000 due to some contracting requirements. Like the rest of Department of Defense, our budget has been dramatically curtailed and we just couldn’t support that. That’s when we reached out to the Seabees.”
Clearwater contacted Navy Construction Group 1’s Command Master Chief Corey Heinrich and the two began working details to determine the feasibility of the project.
Fortunately, a crane crew was already assigned to constructing some buildings for a new gunnery range at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms and a trip to March ARB was a convenient stop over as the crew made its way back north to Port Hueneme.
As the crew went over the final plan for the movement of the fuel tank, the confined area where the tank was being moved from was the most significant hurdle. Along either side of the narrow corridor where the tank rested were buildings containing high-value items critical to the generator project. A single miscalculation could have injured the Seabees and seriously damaged the tank and buildings.
“It’s a little awkward, but pretty simple,” said Petty Officer Fernando Mendoza, the crane operator for the job. “This isn’t new to me and, I’m pretty good at it.”
The operation took about four hours and the Seabees said they loved the job.
“It’s awesome that we get to actually do real, not just training lifts, to support actual customers,” said Chief Petty Officer Scott Henske, the Load Test Director for NMCB 4. “There’s no better training to do that than what we’re doing right now.”
The lift was special to Henske, Mendoza and the rest of the Seabees not just because it was a real-world operation, but because their client was one that had served them well in the past. “I’ve been deployed overseas eight times,” said Henske. “I got to watch the Superbowl in Iraq and Afghanistan and in Guam [because of AFN]. It’s a boost to morale for myself and for all of our troops that are deployed.”
“It’s good,” said Mendoza. “[AFN] helps us out with all the channels so it’s nice to be able to give a little back.”