Exercise Midnight Sun - Greenland 2008

BT Emergency Response Team – ERTBT ERT


Update - Saturday 16 August


Sadly this is my last day completing the blog with the assistance of the ERT, my time with them in Greenland has been very good and a great experience. The scenary here is fantastic and the views are breathtaking, something which I am sure will remain with everyone who has been on this expedition, certainly something I will remember.


Geordies PointToday, Saturday 16th August, has been spent handing over the military liaison duties to Sgt Sophie Spittle, who is on phase 2. First task was to show the site at Kangaamuit Heights and then going through the system configuration and how to send the data (photos & videos) collected from the expedition teams back to the UK for inclusion on the Midnight Sun website.


The VIPs returned from their trip up the fjord to Kangaamuit, and were then shown around the rest of the settlement and sailing ship Adventure which is currently moored in the harbour. Tonight we had a partly with locals, and were treated to local fare such as muskox, reindeer and whale which was very good, particularly when compared to Capt Stu McHenery's pasta!!


(Image: Geodies Point looking towards Ice Camp)


The following are a few words from the BT VIPs, Larry Stone and Bob Groves CBE:

Beautiful scenery in the fjord as we were 'recovered' back to Kangamuit. Ruined only by the Army rations of beans and sausages. Following a visit to the Midnight Sun sailing yacht - which had just arrived after a 12 day voyage from Gosport braving a force 8 gale - we attended an event with the local Inuit people. We ate musk ox, whale and reindeer with songs from the sailing, kayaking and mountaineering team afterwards, The evening was rounded out splendidly by some beautiful and haunting melodic and harmonious singing from the very hospitable Inuit people. The Comms has worked really well and the ERT teamd worked very hard - scaling hills to mount equipment - all with unfailing good humour (and occasionally wit).


A great visit. I feel very privileged. A very good celebration as part of TA100 and a great exercise for the ERT.



All in all a remarkable experience for all who have taken part. The professionalism of the ERT team coupled with the sheer hard work necessary to get the network installed is truely impressive. Anyone who has visited the aptly named Gordie's point - John McGraw to note! ( and Doug Turner!) cannot fail to have been impressed by the challenge faced in getting the equipment up a climb that involves a fixed ropes pitch!

The environment is a real challenge, moving from warm to really very cold in minutes and any travel on the fiord requires thick survival suits. Having now done about 3hrs in a zodiac I have found a new respect for water travel in a cold climate. The views are truely awesome with the glaciers and iceflows giving the impression that Greenland is the final bastion of the last iceage.


The song goes- " If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere" and it really applies to this environment. I have every confidence that the ERT really can manage a deployment anywhere after this!



Update 15th August 2008


Anton and Gary remain out in the Fjord carrying out maintenance activties at Geordies Point, Mark and Craig briefly returned to Kangaamuit to greet the VIP vistors.


On Thursday 14th August 2008, Larry stone, Bob Groves, Alastair Carruthers and John Mcgaw from BT, Maj Gen & Lady Cowan and Brig Hargreaves arrived at Kangaamuit and visited the base camp location before moving onto Tasiussaq Bay where they will be based for the next two days. All the guests were introduced to Noah, Anders and David.


KangaamiutWhilst at base camp, an overview of the system and the challenges encountered at each of the sites was given by Craig and Kirk. A video conference via the network was held with Capt stu McHenery at Tasiussaq Bay to demonstrate the network working. After an issue of equipment to the BT VIPs, everyone made their way back to the quayside and boarded 'Nivi' and set about going further up the Fjord. A brief stop was made at the Island so that the fuel could be replenished before a further journey to Tasiussaq Bay, where they greeted by the mountaineering teams.


Whilst at Tasiussaq Bay, Bob and Larry paid their respects to the Mast God, and added some more items to the shrine that Camp Elf Stu had created.


adventureCapt Stu McHenery has managed to escape from his soliditude at Tasi Bay and made his way to Kangaamuit by way of 'Nivi'. On his return he was greeted with reindeer stew which had been prepared earlier by Kirk. The meal was enjoyed by Kirk, Stu and Alastair.


This morning (Friday 15th August 2008), we woke to see that yacht Adventure had arrived and was moored at Kangaamuit and we were visited later on by the skipper and a couple of the crew.


More new pictures in the ERT Gallery


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