Established during World War II to replace civilian construction companies working on U.S. bases overseas, U.S. Navy Seabees officially began supporting the U.S. Department of State on April 21, 1966. Seabees detailed to the department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) construct, renovate, repair, and install technical security systems, and conduct other projects in sensitive areas of U.S. Department of State facilities overseas.

Three Seabees tell DSS what it’s like to support the U.S. Department of State facilities overseas.

Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Patrick, U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany

Seabee Ryan Patrick removes and installs a power system with fellow Seabee Tripp in Den Haag, Netherlands, June 2018. (U.S. Department of State photo)

How long have you been at Consulate Frankfurt and is this your first post?

I’ve been here since February 2017. This is my first post supporting DSS.

How long have you been a Seabee?

I’ve been a Seabee since 2011 and was first posted in San Diego, California. There was not as much travel as I was expecting when I joined the Navy, so the day I heard about the chance to serve with the State Department, which included an overseas tour, I applied that same day.

Was there any pivotal moment, class, or reason why you became a Seabee?

I always had the desire to join the military. When I signed up, I was given the chance to be a Seabee.
I honestly can’t imagine myself in any other community.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

The most rewarding aspect of my job now, and the thing I remember most about my tour here, is the travel. I’ve had amazing opportunities to work in and visit several countries that I never thought I would see. To date, I have been to 27 countries.

Is there a specific project that you supported in the past that you’re especially proud of ?

A project that stands out was the decommissioning of the old U.S. Embassy in London. We tore out several rooms’ worth of equipment and spent the better part of a week covered in sweat, dust, and fiberglass. It was hard work, but being able to complete everything ahead of schedule and see the opening of the new U.S. embassy was something that I am very proud I was a part of.

Petty Officer 1st Class Nicole Salerno, U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan

Seabee Nicole Salerno (right) inspects a secure container, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Jan. 17, 2020. (U.S. Department of State photo)

How long have you been at Embassy Islamabad and is this your first post?

I have been here for eight months. This is my first posting; however, I spent two months on a temporary duty assignment in Baghdad prior to coming to Pakistan.

How long have you been a Seabee?

As of March 7, 2020, I have been a Seabee for 13 years.

Was there any pivotal moment, class, or reason why you became a Seabee?

The reason I chose to become a Seabee was that, before joining, I talked to some older retired Seabees that had been in during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Their jobs and experiences were extremely interesting to me. Seabees also appeared to serve in every part of the

world and have a very useful skillset, which was a definite draw for me when I was deciding to join.

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

I think the most rewarding part of my job is the fact that at the end of the day, you can actually see what you’ve accomplished. Whether that is seeing how far you’ve come on a build, replacing or repairing a faulty piece of equipment, or installing a whole new system, there is something extremely satisfying about being able to step back and physically see a job well done.

Is there a specific project that you supported in the past that you’re especially proud of?

While I was in Baghdad, we started having major issues with one of our systems. The whole embassy engineering service center spent hours upon hours troubleshooting and trying new ideas to get the system up and running properly. It took several weeks of work, but we were able to get the system working, which impacted approximately 500 personnel and 12 different buildings.

Petty Officer 1st Class Kerby Cange, Fort Lauderdale Regional Center (FRC)

Seabee Kerby Cange replaces a faulty lock to allow personnel access to a room at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He started the job by cutting through the drywall and wood on the side of the door, Santo Domingo, September 2019. (U.S. Department of State photo)

How long have you been at Fort Lauderdale Regional Center (FRC) and is this your first posting?

I have been here for two years now. This is my first post. I spent six months in the temporary duty assignment “pool” in D.C. before coming to the FRC, which services the Dominican Republic.

How long have you been a Seabee?

I have been a Seabee for more than nine years. I started out as an engineering aide.

Was there any pivotal moment, class, or reason why you became a Seabee?

Growing up I had always wanted to study something related to the construction industry. In college, I started studying architecture, but I wanted to do something more. That is when I learned about the Seabees. It was the perfect choice for me because being a Seabee would allow me to serve my country while doing what I love. “We build, we fight!”

What do you find most rewarding about your job?

The most rewarding part about my job is the fact that I get to make a difference, for both my country and for Americans. Through my work, I keep Americans and allies working overseas safe, and that is very rewarding.

Is there a specific project that you supported in the past that you’re especially proud of?

I was able to help troubleshoot and fix a non-operable handicap feature for the doors at an embassy. A new employee with physical disabilities had just arrived at post, and every day that person was having a lot of trouble moving around in a wheelchair. I was proud to be able to bring a solution to an issue that directly affected someone’s life and ability to do their job.

 

U.S. Department of State

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