Build For Your Navy

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WWII Recruiting poster for the Seabees printed on canvas or paper as a giclee print. 18.5" x 27.5"

The First Seabees

The first Seabees were not raw recruits when they voluntarily enlisted. Emphasis in recruiting them was placed on experience and skill, so all they had to do was adapt their civilian construction skills to military needs. To obtain men with the necessary qualifications, physical standards were less rigid than in other branches of the armed forces. The age range for enlistment was 18–50 but, after the formation of the initial battalions, it was discovered that several men past 60 had managed to join. During the early days of the war, the average age of Seabees was 37. After December 1942 voluntary enlistments were halted by orders of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and men for the construction battalions had to be obtained through the Selective Service System. Henceforward, Seabees were on average much younger and came into the service with only rudimentary skills.

The first recruits were the men who had helped to build Boulder Dam, the national highways, and New York's skyscrapers; who had worked in the mines and quarries and dug the subway tunnels; who had worked in shipyards and built docks and wharfs and even ocean liners and aircraft carriers. By the end of the war, 325,000 such men had enlisted in the Seabees. They knew more than 60 skilled trades, not to mention the unofficial ones of souvenir making and "moonlight procurement". Nearly 11,400 officers joined the Civil Engineer Corps during the war, and 7,960 of them served with the Seabees.

At Naval Construction Training Centers and Advanced Base Depots established on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Seabees were taught military discipline and the use of light arms. Although technically support troops, Seabees at work, particularly during the early days of base development in the Pacific, frequently found themselves in conflict with the enemy. (Description courtesy of Wikipedia).