Excerpts from “SEABEE Online” United States Navy – OFFICIAL ONLINE MAGAZINE OF THE SEABEES
Harbor-Base-Neighbors: When the Navy Came to Port Hueneme, 1942-1945, and Beyond – November 26, 2014 Dr. Frank A. Blazich Jr., Historian, U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
Initially, the base suffered from shortages of building supplies, equipment and even security. Not until June did small arms even arrive to arm the perimeter! Nonetheless, the pace of the war, notably in the Pacific, only accelerated ABD Port Hueneme’s growth. By July, the 7th NCB arrived at the base to train and prepare for its first Pacific deployment, and the first ships embarked for overseas bases from the harbor. The first battalion to leave Port Hueneme by sea was the 11th NCB, which sailed for Tutuila in the Samoa group on Aug. 12, 1942. Meanwhile at the northeast corner of the base, by the intersection of Ventura and Oxnard roads, an array of Quonset huts organized as an Advance Base Receiving Barracks rose from the former alfalfa fields. Officially established on Oct. 23, 1942, as Camp Rousseau in honor of Rear Adm. Henry H. Rousseau, CEC, USN, the barracks encompassed 725 acres. In addition to barracks, the camp featured messing, outfitting and training locations for Seabees embarking on overseas duty. In October, five line officers arrived at the depot to begin establishing a 10-acre ARGUS Assembly and Training Detachment. Codenamed ARGUS in homage to the 100-eyed giant in Greek mythology, the program assembled, trained and deployed specialized radar – radio tracking, direction finding, plotting and fighter direction teams of officers and enlisted men for advance base airfields in the Pacific War. The first ARGUS unit shipped out in April 1943, followed by 30 more before the detachment was disestablished on Aug. 12, 1944. In addition to the ARGUS program, in the fall of 1942 another specialized training unit became a base tenant. An ACORN Assembly and Training Detachment set up shop to the northwest of the harbor adjacent to Silver Strand Beach, covering approximately 141 acres with a capacity of 3,080 personnel. An ACORN was an airfield assembly unit designed to accomplish the rapid construction and operation of a landplane and seaplane advance base, or in conjunction with amphibious operations, the quick repair and operation of captured enemy airfields. Every ACORN had a Seabee construction battalion attached to it to build and/or repair the airfield and necessary structures, as well as a Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit to maintain the base after the withdrawal of the construction battalion. Commissioned on Feb. 6, 1943, concurrent with the Argus unit, the ACORN detachment operated under the jurisdiction of Training Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet. At Camp Bedilion, named in honor of the late Cmdr. Robert Bedilion, a man instrumental in the development of the ACORN program, the detachment also administered two additional training sites: Camp Oak, 21 miles east of Ventura and 32 miles northeast of ABD Port Hueneme; and Camp Mugu, which featured a 150-foot wide, 5,450-foot long airstrip of Marston matting built by the Seabees.
Article submitted by Todd Cabral
Photos from “SEABEE Online” United States Navy – OFFICIAL ONLINE MAGAZINE OF THE SEABEES