SeaBees ‘Can Do’ in Djibouti
DID is always happy to report stories from the front lines that demonstrate real creativity and address key problems or save money. Djibouti sits at the entrance to the Red Sea, astride the passage from the Indian Ocean to the Suez Canal. It has become a key berthing base for western warships combating the rampant piracy off of the Somali coast, and also plays an important role in the Global War on Terror and intertwined efforts to stabilize the northwest Africa region. Both the US Marines and the French Foreign Legion base troops in and around Djibouti.
As that force grows and improvements are made to the facilities at Camp Lemonier, however, a need for power follows. This kind of imperative around the world has driven efforts to field containerized renewable power units, and at least one 5kw THEPS unit is scheduled to deploy in the Djibouti region soon. Meanwhile, more conventional approaches are being used to meet the required load. “Right now we can’t power all of the containerized living units we have,” said Camp Lemonier commanding officer Capt. John Heckmann Jr. Which is why the camp recently received 6 generators weighing 11,000 pounds each and producing 1 Mw each – enough power for approximately 1,000 American homes. The generators will primarily be used to support the camp’s $30 million berthing project.
The problem was, how to offload them without a crane? Renting one would be expensive and difficult, and take time. Seabees from Camp Lemonier Public Works, Mobile Utilities Support Equipment out of Port Hueneme, CA, and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 were assigned to the problem, and thought about the railway industry, which uses electric jacks to perform maintenance on their box cars. If they could lift a boxcar, how about a generator? On July 24-25, they discovered the answer was “yes,” executed the project ahead of schedule, and saved $300,000 in crane rental fees. US Navy Newsstand story.