Archivist Attic – Feeding a Seabee


Everyone knows that Seabees work hard at making the Navy run. They build mess halls and galleys to make sure that everyone gets fed but building bases can make a Seabee hungry enough to eat a horse. Though horse is not on the menu Seabees do eat a variety of foods all designed to give them enough energy to keep ‘Can Do’ing.

3rd Construction Battalion Seabees enjoy "Turkey Day" in South P

“3rd Construction Battalion Seabees enjoy ‘Turkey Day’ in South Pacific.  (Horace W. Mooers, Newtonville, Mass.)”  Cook preparing turkeys for Thanksgiving.  New Caledonia, South Pacific, WWII.

You might think that cooking for a mess of Seabees is an easy thing to do, but the Navy created several cookbooks throughout the years instructing cooks and mess attendants on what to cook and why they needed to cook specific foods. The cookbooks came packed with information, everything from nutritional value of foods to baking guidelines and even how to troubleshoot common cooking difficulties. 

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Page 402 from “The Cook Book of the United States Navy” 1944.  ‘Trouble Shooting’ guidelines for cakes.


Menu planning was taken seriously and included tips on making sure nutritional needs were met, likes and dislikes of the sailors and making sure the climate was taken into consideration when preparing meals. Sample menus were also given for each season with a meal planned out for breakfast, dinner and supper for every day of the week. The sample menus even included drink options, most of which was milk or coffee. 

Other aspects of food preparation were also dealt with including sanitary needs, how to deal with canned and dehydrated foods, weight equivalents and baking. Each aspect was given a quick introduction and how to handle unique problems that might occur. Many tips given in these cook books are still useful today including what to do if your cookies spread out too much (tip: reduce the baking soda in the dough) to substitutions for the perfect barbeque sauce (tip: fruit juice or frozen sweet pickles can be used in place of vinegar).

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Page 120 from “The Cook Book of the United States Navy” 1944, a recipe for Beef Croquettes.  Notice the recipe states that this is for 100 portions, enough to feed a swarm of bees!

In the end the goal of these cook books was simply to give the Seabees, and the rest of the Navy, a good meal that would give them the energy to continue working. The difference between the Seabees and the rest of the Navy was that the Seabees not only got to eat what was cooked in the mess halls, but they also got to put them together. The Seabees worked quickly and efficiently in order to build the mess halls and galleys. To this day when the cooks hear the Seabees are coming to town they know they are about to get a kitchen and everyone knows they are about to get a hot meal. So thank you Seabees for making sure we have a place to chow down! 

34th CB bakery, Kukum, Guadalcanal, BSI

34 Construction Battalion Bakery, Kukum, Guadalcanal, Construction Battalion cooks and bakers May 13, 1944

Visit our Facebook page and tell us what some of your favorite, or least favorite, meals you have had while deployed! #SeabeeCanDo

Ingi FaceMeet the Archivist: Ingi House

Ingi House is originally from Kansas where she got her B.A. in history from the University of Kansas and M.L.S. from Emporia State University. After working for the Dole Institute of Politics she moved to the East Coast. In Washington D.C. she worked at the National Archives and Records Administration 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.

Curator’s Corner- First Female Civil Engineer Diving Officer

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Diving Officer Pins, belong to the first female CEC Diving Officer, Captain (Diann) Karin Lynn [U.S. Navy Seabee Museum Collection]

In celebration of women’s history month, we will kick off March by showcasing the courageous women who have joined the ranks of the Seabees and the Civil Engineer Corps.

Historically, women were discouraged from becoming Navy divers; it was exclusively reserved for men for over one hundred years. The diving gear was designed with men in mind and not compatible for women divers. Through determination, persistence, and a love of diving, many early pioneers proved themselves in a male-dominated world to become valued and respected members of the diving community.

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Diving Officer Pins, belong to the first female CEC Diving Officer, Captain (Diann) Karin Lynn [U.S. Navy Seabee Museum Collection]

One of these women is Captain (Diann) Karin Lynn, the first Civil Engineer Corps female diving officer. During an interview with the newsletter Bee in the Know she was quoted saying, “A major factor in my career decision was the respect I always had for my dad and a desire to emulate him. I always knew in the back of my mind that a Navy career was what I wanted.”

She gained her master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Virginia and joined the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps in 1977. Captain Lynn obtained her second master’s degree in Ocean Engineering from the University of Hawai`i and qualified as a Basic Diving Officer and Ship Salvage Officer in 1983. She went on to specialize in diving and underwater systems. From 1997 to 2001, Captain Lynn was the Director of the Naval Ocean Facilities Program where she managed 250 professional military divers and ocean engineers. Captain Lynn retired from a 30-year career in civil and ocean engineering for the Navy in 2007.

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Naval Ocean Facilities Program Mission: To serve as the U.S. Navy’s facilities expert for engineering, maintaining and installing ocean littoral and underwater systems, and for design and certification of shore based hyperbaric facilities. [Courtesy of Naval Facilities Engineering Command]

The diving pins, also called diving badges, shown here belonged to Captain Karin Lynn. They are awarded to servicemen and women who qualify as divers. These two gold badges are the Navy diving officer insignia. The diving patch was created during WWII and became a breast insignia in the late 1960s. The large badge was worn over the left breast pocket above ribbons and metals. The smaller badge is a miniature version and worn on formal and dinner dress jackets on the left above miniature medals.

Come visit the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum today, Tuesday March 1, 2016, between 2-4pm and meet the curator and see Seabee artifacts showcased in Curator’s Corner!

Robyn profile picMeet the Curator: Robyn King is pursuing her master’s degree in Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management through Johns Hopkins University.  She earned her Bachelors in History and Anthropology from the State University of New York at Oneonta.  She has experience working at state museums, historic sites, the National Park Service, and most recently the Navy.  She is an expert in collection management, and has worked closely with both natural and cultural collections.  Robyn loves all museums and sharing her love of history.  When she is not working, she is volunteering her time with the National Peace Corps Association, as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from West Africa.