What Did the U.S. Navy's Seabees Do in Vietnam?


Quick Answer

The U.S. Navy's Seabees built bases, support structures and infrastructure for Marine and Army units and the civilian Vietnamese population. They also fought alongside combat troops during the Vietnam Conflict. Many of the Seabees construction projects were military-related, but a significant amount were intended to improve the quality of life and future prospects of the civilian population.

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Full Answer

The U.S. Navy Seabees entered Vietnam in 1954 to construct forward operating bases for special forces units. In late 1954 and early 1955, the Seabees assisted in constructing camps, water treatment facilities and power supply stations at the mouth of the Saigon River to house over 800,000 refugees fleeing the countries partition into North and South Vietnam as outlined in the Geneva agreements.

During the summer of 1956, a Seabee battalion conducted a survey of over 1,800 miles of existing and planned roads across the country's rugged terrain. Between 1964 and 1968, the number of Seabees deployed in Vietnam grew to more than 26,000 with hundreds of construction projects, including airfields, hospitals, bunkers, storage facilities and roads and bridges.The Seabees built gun emplacements for perimeter defenses, ramps for landing craft and communications centers.

In the civilian communities, the Seabees provided medical treatment, dug wells, built schools, utility systems and hospitals. They also provided construction skills training to the Vietnamese population..

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