March 5, 1942
Happy Birthday to the Seabees!
Since March 5, 1942, the United States Navy has employed an elite cadre of construction battalions, more commonly known as Seabees. Over the years the Seabees have served in all major American conflicts, supported humanitarian efforts, and helped build communities and nations around the globe. Seabees young and old now celebrate the birthday of their unique organization today. However, March 5 has not always been recognized as its birthday.
From its beginning during World War II until 1954, the Seabee anniversary was observed on December 28 as this was the date Admiral Ben Moreell requested authority from the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation to recruit enlisted personnel to serve in a naval construction force. In the early 1950s, Rear Admiral John R. Perry, recognizing the current Seabee birthday fell at a hectic time of the year and many Seabees were on leave as it fell during the week between Christmas and New Years’, made the decision to find a new date suitable for the celebration of the Seabee birthday.
Several historically significant dates in Seabee history were considered for the new birthdate. One of these was October 31 as it was the day in 1941 when the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation directed Admiral Moreell to form a Headquarters Construction Company of ninety-nine men for duty in Iceland. March 19 was also considered because on that day in 1942 the Secretary of the Navy authorized Civil Engineer Corps Officers of the newly formed Construction Battalions.
After much deliberation by leadership, March 5, 1942 was determined to be the date of most appropriate day to celebrate the Seabee birthday. Not only was that the date the Construction Battalions were given official permission to assume the name “Seabees,” but it was also the anniversary date of the Civil Engineer Corps which had been established in 1867.