Event archive

Event Organiser: ICE

Hurricane Irma – military engineer support in the aftermath of an overseas natural disaster, Chatham

  • Lecture
  • Chatham
  • 14 March 2018
  • 17:45 - 20:00
Hurricane Irma – military engineer support in the aftermath of an overseas natural disaster, Chatham

About this event

Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 hurricane with peak wind speeds of 295 km/h hit the Caribbean region on Wednesday 6 September 2017, causing massive damage and devastation to the northeast Caribbean islands including the UK Overseas Territories (OT) of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Turks and Caicos Islands. A cross government humanitarian response was implemented immediately; at its peak over 50 humanitarian experts, 50 UK police officers and over 2600 military personnel deployed with £62 M of committed funding.

Specialist military infrastructure engineers were at the spearhead of the deployment and played a critical role in re-establishing essential services and enabling airfields to relieve suffering. Later, as the initial humanitarian crisis eased, these specialist military infrastructure engineers remained in the Caribbean as part of a combined DIFD and FCO task force and set to work assisting with initial and longer term recovery planning across the region. Their work vastly enhanced the recovery of critical national infrastructure and relieved pressure on the beleaguered infrastructure ministries in the affected countries.

Lt Col Gareth Walker is the Commanding Officer of 66 Works Group and deployed to the Caribbean as the senior Royal Engineer and infrastructure expert on the first aid flight from the UK. He was crucial in identifying key priorities in the aftermath of the hurricane. He was joined on the flight by Captain Phil Chalkley, a Garrison Engineer (Electrical), whose 20 years' experience in electrical engineering was crucial in 'black starting' BVI's power station following Irma's passing and starting to rebuild the electricity, and water production networks.

Major Jon Jervis, Officer Commanding 528 STRE (Power) deployed later in September and assumed command of the specialist infrastructure team, supporting the UK effort in the identification, scoping, prioritization, contracting, procurement and programme management of £30m of initial recovery projects. Staff Sergeant Aubrey Seymour, a newly qualified military Clerk of Works (Mechanical), also deployed later in September, and quickly found himself moving from advising on water production and sewerage on BVI to controlling the day to day running of the OTs' Water and Sanitation Department.

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served in the auditorium reception/conference room from 17.45 to 18.30. You are required to pre-register to attend this talk by contacting Jo Shiner before 07 March. You will need to give your name and membership affiliation (InstRE/ICE/IMechE), a contact telephone number and your car details (make, type, colour and registration number). You will also need to provide photographic identification at the gate on the date of the event.


For more information, please contact:

Joanne Shiner
t: 01634 822460
e: joanne.shiner@hts.army.mod.uk

Event venue

Chatham Station Auditorium
Brompton Barracks
Chatham ME4 4UG
United Kingdom

For more information please contact:

Anne Qualters

e: anne.qualters@ice.org.uk