There is a lot that those who are not in the military do not know – or appreciate – about military life, and for most, it is paying a visit to a military museum that can help bridge that gap. Among the museums that people can go to is the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, which showcases memorabilia from the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion – or the Seabees.
The beginnings of the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum could be traced back in part to mementoes left behind by about a quarter of a million Seabees, who passed through Port Hueneme on the way to, or from, the Pacific theater during the Second World War. By the time the war had ended, a significant collection of memorabilia was left in Port Hueneme, so much so that by 1946, these souvenirs filled the building known as “Theater C.”
The first Seabee Museum was the brainchild of Commander Neil Kingsley, the Officer in Charge of the Training and Distribution Center, who conceived the establishment of a museum “to stimulate interest in and preserve the history of the Seabees.” In addition to the war souvenirs in Theater C, a campaign for additional memorabilia yielded photographs, cruise books, uniforms, unit flags, and newspapers, among others.
In October, 1947, Rear Admiral John J. Manning, then the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks, dedicated the first Seabee Museum. By the time the early 50s came along, Theater C evolved to become more of a warehouse than a display area, and in October 1956, the new museum – consisting of two large Quonset huts known as “Elephant Huts” – was rededicated.
It is the second oldest official US Navy museum in the system.