PORT HUENEME, Calif. - “We Build, We Fight” has been the motto of the U. S. Navy’s Construction Force, known as the “Seabees,” for more than seven decades. The Navy Seabees are an elite group of personnel trained in both combat and the craft skills of the construction industry.
Petty Officer 3rd Cass Rayvon Washington, a native of Plainfield, New Jersey, builds and fights around the world as a member of naval construction battalion center located in Port Hueneme, California.
Washington is serving as a Navy equipment operator, who is responsible for construction equipment, heavy machinery and transporting mission-essential items by way of tractor trailers for construction projects.
Building in austere environments can be a challenge. Fighting in harsh conditions can also be a challenge. Building in austere environments while fighting in harsh conditions takes a special kind of person with a great deal of perseverance and determination, according to officials with the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command. These are the kinds of people being trained at Port Hueneme, to provide crucial support to Seabee units deployed around the world.
The jobs of some of the Seabees today have remained unchanged since World War II, when the Seabees paved the 10,000-mile road to victory for the allies in the Pacific and in Europe, said Lara Godbille, director of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum.
"I like that we get to deploy every year to different countries and experience new cultures while providing humanitarian aid to communities in need,” Washington said.
Seabees have served in all American conflicts for nearly 80 years. They have also supported humanitarian efforts using their construction skills to help communities around the world following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Washington is a 2011 Plainfield High School graduate. According to Washington, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Plainfield.
“I learned to be respectful to others and not get ahead of myself when getting into a new command environment,” Washington said.
Port Hueneme is the West Coast homeport of the Navy’s Seabees. It’s one of five learning sites in the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering domain. They train and develop sailors, soldiers, airman, and Marines in construction trades and military skills for Department of Defense operating forces to accomplish contingency and peacetime construction, chemical, biological, and radiological operations, and humanitarian assistance missions worldwide.
Port Hueneme and the men and women who serve there play a key role in the Navy’s broader mission of protecting American interests on the world’s oceans.
According to Navy officials, maintaining maritime superiority is a vital part of a Navy that is present today and prepared for tomorrow. The impact affects Americans and their interests around the world, as more than 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water and 90 percent of all trade travels by sea.
The foundation of the Navy the nation needs includes a focus on warfighting, warfighters and the future of the fighting force.
“I am confident that we will maximize the Navy we have today while delivering the Navy that our nation will rely upon tomorrow,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “We will do so with urgency. Our fleet will be a potent, formidable force that competes around the world every day, deterring those who would challenge us while reassuring our allies and partners.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Washington is most proud of earning his Seabee Combat Warfare device and being named the Safe Seabee of the Quarter.
“This device was a major achievement in my career because it took a lot of studying and hard work in accomplishing this goal," Washington said. "Receiving my quarterly award has a special meaning because I kept my fellow Seabees around me safe from harm's way during construction projects.”
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Washington, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Washington is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“I have a cousin, Anthony Washington, who served in the Navy and he was good role model and someone to look up to because he always gave sound advice,” Washington said. “I want to pay this forward by leading and mentoring junior sailors.”
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Washington, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“Being a Seabee has a significant meaning because of its history and rich tradition, and my work ethic is an example of the Seabee’s ‘can-do-spirit’,” Washington said.