VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Amphibious Construction Battalion Two is set to retire March 31.
The battalion was introduced into the Navy in 1943, in response to the need for uniformed sailors trained in construction during combat situations after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
They’ve taken their service to Vietnam, the Philippines, the Middle East and more over the past eighty years.
ACB TWO is one of two construction battalions in the United States Navy, including ACB ONE in San Diego, Calif.
During the troop’s decommissioning ceremony Thursday, the initial mood was somber, as many didn’t want to see it go, including former ACB TWO Commanding Officer David Stewart.
Stewart was ACB TWO Commanding Officer from 1999 to 2001 after working his way up through the junior corps. He reminisced about his time in service.
“I’m very proud of my accomplishments here,” Stewart said. “I’m very proud to have been a part of this organization and its history. I’m glad to have played a small part in that, but it still is a – it’s a sad day.”
Despite the ceremony starting on a sad note, Admiral Dean Vanderley and Captain Atiim Senthill kept the atmosphere light, with remarks on the memories and stories of the battalion.
Senthill said the troop retirement meant so much more because of how long it’s been in service, a fact he said was because of the missions they’ve accomplished.
“Just because of the unit capabilities that we’ve got,” Senthill said. “The ship-to-shore logistics was very important in the Second World War – Korea, Vietnam, so that capability set is very valuable and that’s why we stayed around for so long,” he said.
Lt. Commander Paul Newell said the troop is retiring because a mission they were set to work is no longer on the Navy Boards Table of Allowance.
The battalion was laid to rest after World War Two in 1945, but then brought back in 1947 at Little Creek. Senthill said he could see a revival like that happening again.
“With the nature of the military, needs ebbs and flow so you might not need something for a particular environment or particular conflict,” Senthill said, “but depending on the location and the type of conflict, then there might be a need for our skillset. So, I do think that in the future at some point we will be back.”
He said the only things left to do before the battalion officially decommissions is balance the books and make sure each sailor has a place to go.
ACB ONE in San Diego will take over ACB TWO’s duties moving forward.
ACB TWO has 200 active and 650 reserved members in the Hampton Roads area and Senthill said most, if not all, have plans on what they will do next.
“The sailor gets a vote, so some sailors wanted to go to California, some wanted to go to Florida, some overseas,” Senthill said, “but a majority of the sailors are local.”