Archivist’s Attic: Project Rest Stop – Making the best lay-over in the Indian Ocean

The distance between Ethiopia and Australia is approximately 10761 km or 6686 miles or currently about 12 hours by plane.

In 1967 the U.S. was looking to somehow shorten the time for orders to get between ships and shore. That answer turned out to be a little island about half way between the two called Diego Garcia. The Seabees were tasked to survey the island and come up with a plan to turn it into a communication station so that ships, messages and men would have a place to rest on their runs.

Project Rest-stop personnel obtaining profiles of the grid airfield area.

Project Rest-stop personnel obtaining profiles of the grid airfield area.

The project, rightfully so, was named Project Rest-stop and lead by Lt. G.S. Robinson. The rest of the world rested while the Seabees got right to work and surveyed and completed a project plan all between May 31 and August 6 of 1967.

During that time they learned how to transform a jungle into a communication base using that famous Seabee ingenuity. They tested various materials to see what would make the best runways including using coral as a base for it. For CBR (California Bearing Ratio) testing they used the rear bumper of a land rover as a dead weight. In order to set up the grids for the airfield they had to clear thick undergrowth using machetes and K-bars.

Not only did the Seabees have to contend with the jungle but they also had to deal with sharks, rays and barracudas. Because of this they determined the most important information to gather and limited themselves to two dives.

Project Rest-stop: boring equipment in operation aboard the raft.

Project Rest-stop: boring equipment in operation aboard the raft.

By the end they were able to determine how to create the best Rest-stop in the Indian Ocean. Thanks to the Seabees the distance between Ethiopia and Australia was considerable shortened and travelers now had a great spot to put their feet up while traveling around the world!

150225-N-JU810-001Meet the Archivist: Ingi House
Ingi House is originally from Kansas where she got her B.A. in history from K.U. and M.L.S. from E.S.U. After working for the Dole Institute of Politics she moved to the East Coast.  In D.C. she worked at the National Archives and Records Admiration and then at the Defense Acquisition University where she became a Certified Archivist. Her continued enjoyment of military history lead her to switching coasts and coming to work for the Seabee Museum where she is collection manager for the archives and records manager liaison.

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