JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Soldiers and Sailors of Alpha Battery 2nd Battalion, Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Joint Intercept Battery, Counter-Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar have undertaken a special construction project aimed at boosting joint morale.

The mission of the Joint Intercept Battery is to operate security systems that protect against indirect fire attacks on Joint Base Balad.

Each gun mount has a guard shack from which around the clock security is maintained. Due to the secure nature of these enclosures, these shacks are constructed and maintained by the Soldiers and Sailors of the battery. When a complete reconstruction of one shack was necessary, an interesting idea was presented: Why not build a ship'

The idea is the brainchild of Petty Officer 2nd Class Clark Wallace IV, a resident of New Orleans, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Christian Fleming, a resident of Bremerton, Wash. Both Wallace and Fleming serve as C-RAM operators and gate security for the battery.

Making the guard shack look like a pirate ship started as a joke. They began drawing up plans, making sketches, plotting keel and rib structures, and researching available resources on JBB. Then, the First Sergeant got wind of it. From that point on, the project has been moving full steam ahead.

Construction began with Wallace and Fleming laying the keel and support structures and preparing the site to receive the structure.

Manpower was mustered to move the ship to its new home. Additionally, concrete was poured with struts placed to give it a firm base. Molding the planking to conform to the structure has been an exercise in patience. Getting the proportions right so that it is both a functional guard shack and a pirate ship has proven challenging.

The goal is to have the ship ready for christening by mid-March at which time the unit will raise an ensign in accordance with naval tradition.

The guard shack is being constructed in a high visibility area and is the source of much curiosity. Every day someone asks: "Expecting a flood'" or "Why are you building a boat'"
"It is actually pretty funny to watch people gawk," said Wallace, further stating that people just don't know what to make of the ship.

Story by Chief Petty Officer G. Keeton