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Seabee Days Festivities Begin Today

The Port Hueneme event will include entertainment, ship tours and examples of the sailors' skills.

September 27, 2003|Rodney Bosch | Time Staff Writer

On the heels of welcoming back its personnel from extended duty in Iraq and outposts throughout the Middle East, Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme will open to the public today for its weekend-long Seabee Days festivities.

To accommodate the 10,000 event-goers each year, the sprawling base is transformed into a patchwork of entertainment centers, makeshift sporting venues and ship tours.

The 17th annual event will be a homecoming of sorts for the more than 600 local Seabees who returned this month after serving nearly seven months in support of the Iraq war efforts.

While there will not be an official homecoming observance, Rear Adm. Charles Kubic will preside over a private medal ceremony this morning to honor Seabees who served in the Middle East.

As commander of the 1st Naval Construction Division, Kubic was responsible for managing Seabee operations and thousands of construction battalion sailors from Port Hueneme, Gulfport, Miss., and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Seabee duties in Iraq and other staging sites included building a complex network of runways and aircraft parking areas as well as fueling facilities for hundreds of U.S. and British aircraft.

On display this weekend will be examples of Seabees' skills, such as bridge building and underwater construction.

"The construction demonstrations and displays are always a cornerstone of Seabee Days," base spokeswoman Linda Wadley said. "It's a great chance for the public to see what the Navy Seabees do."

Gates will open at 9 a.m. today, followed at 11 a.m. by a full dress military parade. More than 700 Seabees outfitted in dress whites and military green will march in the lumbering procession of equipment -- from behemoth earthmovers to small-scale weapons armaments.

A featured attraction each year for many Seabee Days visitors are tours of a Navy destroyer and other seafaring craft.

The destroyer Stethem arrived Friday from its home port in San Diego and will offer 30-minute tours today and Sunday.

Commissioned at Port Hueneme's Naval Construction Battalion Center in 1995, the Aegis guided-missile destroyer is named after a Seabee diver, Robert Dean Stethem, who was killed in Beirut during a terrorist hijacking of a TWA airliner in 1985.

A limited number of free tour tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign-ups begin today and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at an information booth on the event grounds.

Nonmilitary attractions include music, carnival rides, classic car and motorcycle shows, craft vendors and recreational competitions from softball to skateboarding.

Visitors can enter the base at the Patterson Road or Victoria Avenue gates.

Admission is free. Events will be held until 5 p.m. both days, with the carnival operating until 11 p.m.

More information is available at or 982-6000.

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