The MONAB Story

A history of the mobile airfields of the Royal Navy

The building of the US Navy airstrip on Ponam Island

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By Michael J. D’Andrea78th NCB H.Q. Company

Reproduced from the 78th NCB cruise book 1944

With numerous feats of ingenuity already ac- credited to its Pacific ''CAN-DO'' score card, the 78th Seabees went on to accomplish another record in early June 1944 when it cleared, leveled and covered a 5,000 foot airstrip with some 6,000 truck loads of coral in the short span of II days actual working time.

Built on a strategically situated island in the far southwest Pacific, the project was regarded not only by the Navy's leading engineers as a masterpiece of Seabee ingenuity, but also by the Air Corps, whose victories depended on the speed and time in which this facility could be provided

The isle, due to its comparative smallness in size, had little or no resource from which coral— needed for paving the runway — could be drawn, and two coral jetties extending 400 feet out into the harbor were constructed. It was from these jetties that dragline operators lifted the 6,000 truckloads of coral in the record smashing time.

Cameraman visits working crew assembled on coral jetty following construction of airfield.


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