Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

BT Emergency Response Team – ERTBT ERT


Update 14th August 2008


Sadly we have said goodbye to Nigel and Iain who have left to go back to the UK and welcome, Mark, Anton and Gary who are the next team to maintain the system. After a detailed handover from Nigel, the new team set about setting their priorities for the system maintenance with a view of setting out up the Fjord early on Wednesday morning.


The excitment at Kangaamuit on Wednesday was the fire at the local rubbish dump which approximately 500m away from the base camp house. The local fire brigade were seen to rush to the scene and attempt to put the fire out, something they acheived after several explosions and using, what appears to be, all the water on the island. Mark took some pictures of this scene.


Accompanied by Craig, the team departed in Ander's and David's Zodiac's for their whirlwind tour of the fjord, stopping on route at the island, Geordies Point and then Tasi Bay. At each of the sites, they carried out some maintenance to ensure that the network remained working and got a good understanding of the rigours of working remotely in the Fjord. Anton and Gary will be staying in the Fjord for a couple of days to continue the maintenance and work on Ice Camp when taken their by Anders and David.

The weather here has changed considerably over the last few days, gone is the nice sunshine to be replaced by rain and reasonably high winds, so much so the tents at Tasi Bay were interesting shapes in the morning afterwards.


Our hosts,Noah and Regina, have kindly provided the base camp team with some locally sourced food, reindeer, which will be cooked for the team returning from the Fjord later today. This was caught by Noah on a recent trip with Anders and David further up the Fjord. In order to limit the amount of wild animals which are used for food, there is a local rule that anything shot must be carried out by the person doing the hunting without any help, this proved interesting for David who came out with a 100kg Musox during this trip.


Monday 11th August 2008


(New images in the gallery)

The network continues to work well, with connectivity proved through to Tasiusaq Bay since yesterday afternoon. Regular contact has been maintained with the Military, Capt Stu McHenery through out the day, with regular calls to the mast at Tasiusaq Bay.


Generator maintenanceAll the BT ERT team are back at Kangaamuit, and have been carrying out routine maintenance on the Comms system at this location. Some problems were encountered with the generators brought out by the team, but following telephone calls to the suppliers and dismantling and cleaning parts, lots of flies/mosquito's were inside the generator, the problems were resolved. Congratulations to Rob, Nigel and Ian for their engine maintenance skills.


We have been joined by the Media crew, Derek (I have been tazzered), Kevin (the serious techy), Adrian and Tanya, who have been keeping us entertained with their stories from the Fjord. Lunch was interesting in that we were treated to salmon sandwiches. Later, Derek cooked a very nice tuna pasta meal for all at Kangaamuit, Not for eatingwhich was washed down with local water and a claret, namely blackcurrant juice. The evening was then spent discussing the relative merits of satelitte communication speeds and cost.


We sadly said goodbye to Rob today who went back to the UK after three weeks in Greenland, his efforts in resolving the comms and power issues over the last couple were greatly appreciated. All the team back at Kangaamuit wish him all the best for his journey back to the UK.


Another fishing trip by Nigel and Craig was quite successful with two large cod being brought back. Craig continues to prove that he is a master at catching some sort of ugly stone fish. These were grilled and enjoyed by all at the house.


8th - 10th August 2008.


It is day ten of Team 3's time here in Greenland. Base Camp (Kangaamiut) is now fully operational and has become 'home from home' for all of us. The Base camp is situated in a typical Greenlanadic House, overlooking Kangaamiut Bay, with stunning views out to sea and the surrounding mountains. Iain, Kirk and I have been manning Base Camp and maintaining the Comms Site 1 (Kangaamiut Heights), which is approximately a 30 minute hike through the village and up a steep hill.


Rob Smith & Nigel Baker have spent the last four nights under canvas, upgrading and maintaining the comms network at Geordies Point (Comms Site 3), Qeqertarsuaq (Comms Site 2) and Tasiusaq Camp (Comms Site 4). The unusual calm weather here in Greenland is adding extra demands to our day to day movement of people and boats up and down Eternity Fjord, to maintain power supplies at each of our sites.


FishingThe teams are in good spirits and are adapting well to 'living off the land' catching fish, collecting wild berries and mussels to supplement the 24 hour ration packs. Anders and David from Artic Guides have also helped us identify some useful wild plants to add seasoning to the food and even a plant that can be used to clean your teeth with!  Rob and Nigel have become experts at fishing and gathering mussels each evening to supplement the army ration packs they have been given as their normal sustenance.

On Thursday evening we had (Kirk, Ian and Craig) were invited to Noah and Regina's home for coffee and they kindly provided some whale meat jerky, a new and some what acquired taste, and is like beef jerky but salty.  Also they kindly give us some locally caught whale meat for one of our meals.  On our return on Friday evening, Iain set about turning this local produce into a very nice stew, as a welcome back meal for Rob and Nigel following their epic 5 day tour around the Fjord resolving the many power issues, Anders commented that it was the best stew he had tasted for a long time.


Today (Saturday) we managed to grab ten minutes to do some fishing close to the Base Camp, Craig caught a nice cod, a flat fish and a strange looking sea cucumber.  The latter, after much debate as to whether it was edible and ‘Googling’ for an answer, it was returned to the sea since none of the team was willing to try and cook let alone eat it. Rob excelled himself by cooking a very nice kedgeree from the freshly caught fish.

Currently the competition for best chef is between Ian and Rob, both of which return home on Tuesday and their applications for Master Chef are on their way to the BBC as we speak.


Following some hard work by Nigel, Iain and Rob, we now have a working system between Kangaamiut and Tasiusaq Bay.  This is working on a mixture of renewable and fixed power infrastructure at each of the sites. There is one remaining link to engineer in, this being Geordies Point to Ice Camp and it is hoped that when the mountaineering team returns that this can be achieved and a fully operational network will be in place. In the meantime, the system is being used to send the information being collected by the kayaking and mountaineering teams currently out in the Fjord.



ERT Background


The ERT was formed in 2005, with over 3500 people from all parts of the UK expressing an interest and applying for the 24 posts. Candidates applied from all parts of BT, bringing their skills and qualities to the team.

ERT Training.


The team’s primary objective is to maintain the BT Critical National Infrastructure in support of Government, the Emergency Services and Civil Authorities in the event of terrorist actions or serious incidents, involving hazardous materials. To carry out this role the team is required to train and exercise alongside units of the Military, Police, Fire and Ambulance Services.


ERT on operations in London

During formation of the team the 7/7 London bombings took place, and elements of the team were placed on standby to respond. More recently, the ERT were deployed to Gloucester supporting the flood relief and placed on standby for potential flooding in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The team has a secondary key role, to provide International Disaster Relief as part of BT’s Corporate Social Responsibility. It will deploy overseas to places where communications are needed to support aid agencies or humanitarian disaster relief.
BT successfully delivered humanitarian relief communications in Kosovo, Bosnia, Asian Tsunami and the Pakistan Earthquake.ERT team on recce. Delivery of humanitarian relief is now an integral part of the team’s remit, having also been placed on standby to deploy for the recent Bangladesh flooding disaster.



BT – Ex Midnight Sun


Early in 2007 the BT ERT was approached with a proposal to provide the total communications package for Midnight Sun. Considering BT is also the prime sponsors, it meant a considerable further investment from BT in manpower and equipment. The ERT took up the challenge, acquired the appropriate budget, began designing a comms plan, deployed a recce team to Greenland alongside the military planning team and began researching equipment that would deliver the communications plan.


Link plan

The ERT will deploy a total of 16 engineers in total. A team of 4 will deploy at the beginning of the expedition, to build a network into Eternity Fjord using a mixture of microwave and satcom equipment, terminating at the various advance base camps along the Fjord. This team will be followed by overlapping maintenance teams of 2 for continuity and at the end, a network recovery team, to breakdown, pack and ship kit back to UK. These 16 engineers will be supplemented by 4 R Signals personnel. These R Signals personnel will be selected following the ERT Training weekend in February, and will deploy with ERT engineering teams to Greenland, to assist with maintenance and to cross transfer skills and knowledge.



Furthermore, in each activity team 1 military person will be identified as the comms expert. Prior to deployment to Greenland, the ERT will provide specialist comms training to these people, as part of the training and development weekends. Once in Greenland, System Planactivity teams that strike out away from the advance base camps will be provided with comprehensive set of mobile communications equipment that will allow video, voice and data to be sent back to either the main base at Kangaamiut or the UK. The comms expert within that team will be responsible for the use and maintenance of this equipment.


The ERT will carry out a number of experiments in the use of renewal energy power sources to power equipment at relay sites and base camps, as part of BT’s initiative to develop clean energy sources.

This is a unique opportunity to demonstrate ERT capabilities. The ERT will work alongside Royal Signals personnel to transfer skills, knowledge and experience, providing a valuable contribution to an extremely worthwhile expedition.


For further information
Contact George Johnson Tel. 0207 079 5679