521 STRE – Water Development

521 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (STRE) Water Development are the Army’s well drilling specialists, now part of 62 Works Group RE, in turn, part of 170 Infrastructure Support Engineer Group, not to be confused with 506 Specialist Team Royal Engineers who look after water infrastructure (hope that was clear)

Their primary role is to provide a water exploration and drilling capability for deployed forces, water is such an essential commodity that even in these reduced times, the Army still maintains the capability.

521 STRE
521 STRE

When not deployed on operations they conduct training and military aid tasks. A good example of their work was in Sierra Leone in 2013 at the request of the International Military Advisory and Training Team (Sierra Leone) as part of their role to support the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces become more self-sufficient. The task objective was to install 11 water pumps and pipeline at RSLAF base locations to support over 6,500 personnel and their families.

521 in Sierra Leone
521 in Sierra Leone

Read more at Awoko, click here

521 in Sierra Leone
521 in Sierra Leone

They have also seen service in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, a specialist capability in very high demand.

In Iraq, they carried out operations in Shaibah, drilling production boreholes that would be used by contractors operating the purification facilities. After two years of operation, the salinity levels rose to a point that made continuing operations inefficient, after geological advice from a UK based TA geologist determined that the location was located on a major sedimentary aquifer. 521 were redeployed and after carrying out a test programme the efficiency of extraction improved greatly. In Afghanistan, 521 were deployed in 2005 to support water development works.

As a tangential subject, water infrastructure development is equally as important for irrigation, flood control and longer-term geological surveys. The Royal Engineers work with a number of civilian and reserve personnel and organisations, 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group started Operation Tethys in Afghanistan in 2010 to improve irrigation and water supply in the Helmand Valley.

A good write up on Operation Tethys at the Geological Society, here

Based in Nottingham their equipment consists primarily of five Iveco Trakker truck mounted Dando Watertec 12.8‘s with a number of military modifications supplied under the C Vehicle PFI by ALC.

[tabs] [tab title = “Watertec 1”]

Dando Watertec 12.8 Image 1[/tab] [tab title = “Watertec 2”]

Dando Watertec 12.8 Image 6[/tab] [tab title = “Watertec 3”]

Dando Watertec 12.8 Image 7[/tab] [/tabs]

Have a look at the Dando website and Facebook page, great images and information from an innovative British engineering success story.

Officially called the Truck Mounted Well Driller (TMWD) they can drill a 300mm diameter borehole to a depth of 300m or deeper with a narrower borehole diameter and is A400 and C17 air portable, this being one of the major modifications to the off the shelf equipment.

From the ALC description;

The drilling system incorporates various, state of the art integrated units including a mud pump, water/foam pump, a Mosa Electrical Welder/Generator, CAT Hydraulic Power Pack. The drilling rig is also designed to work in conjunction with a drilling mud recycling system called a Mud Puppy, which is transported on a support vehicle

The Dando rigs have now replaced the three Edeco Truck Mounted Well Drills and three Edeco Truck Mounted Site Investigation Drills, the consolidation has delivered a reduction in spares holding, training and documentation.

So, all bloody cool stuff not many people have heard about!

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Obsvr
Obsvr
April 2, 2015 7:26 am

A tad different to their Cold War role – drilling holes for ADMs!

monkey
monkey
April 2, 2015 7:45 am

Great article TD , essential work to sustain ops or help win hearts and minds by helping locals with a daily need. And you got pictures of containers and bridge in too!

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
April 2, 2015 8:08 am

@TD
Good article.

Might I add that geology is a reserve only capability.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 2, 2015 9:14 am

Good article TD. And the type of article you would not see on most other defence blogs, small units like these are the reason we can be expeditionary and sustain sizable forces on deployment.

Deja Vu touched on another aspect of these sort of units in the manner of the professional knowledge reservist’s can bring to such units.

whitelancer
whitelancer
April 4, 2015 7:00 pm

It’s a very small unit for such an important task. Is their a reserve element as well?

Fluffy Thoughts
Fluffy Thoughts
April 5, 2015 10:45 am

Sorry,

And please ignore if you are easily offended but:

Why are these ‘nations’ republics? They are not self-sufficient; they rely on our post-imperial guilt; and – ultimately – we accept that we have a moral duty to asssit in their development.

Given that we despise European-governance (ok, trap-1) but look to help our former “territories” why not switch to a HMG-lead confederation? I’d rather fund these troops than some organisation used to fund a proto-MP-material-wannae-be or tax-avoidence system for media-luvvies.

PS:

Edit leads to double-posts on Tosh systems with mickey-mouse mouse-pads: Sorry!

Spartan
Spartan
February 20, 2016 7:45 pm

Whitelancer. There are reservist attachments to the team to cover any temporary gaps, but no permanent reserve team members.

JamesF
February 21, 2016 1:05 pm

@Fluffy Thoughts. I guess I’ll have to take the bait – apologies in advance, and don’t take it too seriously, you make an important point shared by many ;-) Very few countires are self-sufficient – the UK can’t feed itself and depends upon international trading relations and the upholding of international law and financial markets to survive, and all of Europe including the UK cannot defend itself without US support. That doesn’t mean we should become part of the US, de facto, or want to lose our independence. Sierra Leone, is a special case (and unusual), alongside a bunch of other either very small or very disrupted/newly independendent nations that do need a lot of help for different reasons just now. East Timor, South Sudan, Somalia/Somaliland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, Rwanda, Burundi, Mali, DR Congo, Kosovo, most pacific, Caribbean and Indian Ocean Islands. Sierra Leone has a particular link with the UK, it was created as a UK naval base, and most of its urban population is decended from ‘freed’ slaves, dropped off by the RN and from all over Africa, and ‘returned’ slaves who had sided with the British during the American War of Independence and ended up scratching a living on Newfoundland in the aftermath. But most post-colonial countries have made a a go of it – from India, Ireland and Indonesia to Nigeria and Ghana (highest growth rate on earth until the oil price crash) and are much less dependent upon aid, and very happy as independent states which contribute to the international system.

Observer
Observer
February 21, 2016 1:27 pm

@Fluffy

And of course the people in those countries don’t want to be part of the British Empire. Post-war, there was the impression that local government could have dealt with WWII better and that there was quite a fair bit of anger at the British “leaving them to dry” (I know, not in fact but in emotional opinion), hence the mass exit from the British Raj and places East. Unless you want to turn all the colonies into police states and force them to stay in the British Empire, you had no choice but to let them go.