The Institution of Royal Engineers (InstRE)


Hurricane Irma – Military Engineer support in the aftermath of an overseas natural disaster

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 £30 M 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
Auditorium Reception/Conference Room
1745hrs – 1830hrs
(Refreshment costs met by InstRE)
Register by contacting Jo Shiner, by
7 March 2018 with the following details:
Name (InstRE/ICE/IMechE)
Contact telephone number
Car details: Make; Type; Colour; VRN (Non RSME personnel only)
Tel: 01634 822460,  Fax: 01634 822362
Professional Engineering Wing
Royal School of Military Engineering
Brompton Barracks
A photographic identity card will be required for entry into Brompton Barracks