U.S. Navy Seabees with NMCB-5 build hand-washing station prototype to support COVID-19 response efforts

From left, Lt. j.g. Matthew Crider, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, Detail Marshall Islands, officer in charge; Lanny Kabua, Republic of Marshall Islands liaison to U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll; Scott Paul, Kwajalein Atoll local government city manager; Tony Maika, councilman; and Builder 1st Class German Dunlop, NMCB-5, Detail Marshall Islands, operations chief, pose for a picture. U.S. Navy Seabees with NMCB-5 designed a portable hand-washing station prototype for the local communities across Kwajalein Atoll. (U.S. Navy photo by Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Thomas Wilde/Released)
June 01, 2020

Story by Chief Builder Rouel Agustin

U.S. Navy Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5, Detail Marshall Islands worked with the U.S. Embassy Marshall Islands; U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein (USAG-KA); and the Kwajalein Atoll local government, to build hand-washing stations across the island April 28 to April 30.

The hand-washing station project is a combined effort in support of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Ministry of Public Health’s efforts in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“Having these hand washing stations throughout the islands of Ebeye and Enniburr not only helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but also displays to local Marshallese, especially the young population, how washing our hands can significantly impact our overall health,” said Mr. Lanny Kabua, Republic of Marshall Islands Liaison to USAG-KA.

The Seabees designed and constructed the prototype with the intent that the Republic of Marshall Islands will take the design and recreate the stations as materials become available when NMCB-5 leaves. The hand-washing station was designed to accommodate a five-gallon bucket, where it can be refilled using rainwater from water catchments installed throughout the island. The Seabees recently built the largest public water catchment on Ennibur Island, providing 12,000 gallons of water to the local community.

“Working alongside Kwajalein Atoll local government to create a design tailored to their needs and resources is another opportunity for the Naval Construction Force to show off our “Can Do” spirit,” said Builder 1st Class German Dunlop, operations chief for NMCB-5’s Detail Marshall Islands. “The “Can Do” spirit is winning hearts and minds of the local populous through humanitarian construction.”

The Seabees have been working alongside the U.S. Embassy Marshall Islands; USAG-KA; and the Kwajalein Atoll local government for the past decade constructing humanitarian projects throughout Kwajalein Atoll—to include Schools, water catchments, and medical facilities.

Once the materials become available, the prototype and living blueprint provided by NMCB-5’s Seabees will allow locals on the island to construct up to 100 hand-washing stations that will collect rainwater. These stations will be placed across the islands within Kwajalein Atoll; including Ebeye, Enniburr, Carlson, Ebadon, and Mejato.

NMCB-5 is deployed across the Indo-Pacific region conducting high-quality construction to support U.S. and partner nations to strengthen partnerships, deter aggression, and enable expeditionary logistics and naval power projection. The battalion stands ready to support Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief and Major Combat Operations throughout the region.