By: Cpl Allen, T.D.
1 CER arrived in Chilliwack B.C. on 25 April 2017 ready to conduct engineer-specific training at the OPSEE training area. Several members of the regiment arrived the previous week. They were tasked with establishing the main camp and forming the support elements crucial for the success of the exercise.
Exercise SAFWAN SAPPER 17 (Ex SS 17) focused primarily on the fundamentals of mobility support. Members of 1 CER started the exercise eager to hone the following skills: Medium Raft, Medium Girder Bridge, ACROW, Elevated Cable, Non-Standard Bridging, assault boating, tree cutting, lumber milling, and bridge demolition.
The purpose of Ex SS 17 was well known by all who participated: developing proficiency in any and all tasks set forth by the higher command in the event of a civil emergency. The exercise was geared toward the fulfillment of CONPLAN PANORAMA, the federal response to a catastrophic earthquake on the coast of southwestern British Columbia. Training in Chilliwack afforded all troops the opportunity to become familiar with the terrain and weather one could expect while working in this region.
Medium Raft construction was a major part of the exercise. Troops arrived on site well prepared to build the MR. Assault boats with spill containment booms were deployed on the shore ready to combat any spill that occurred. All ranks quickly became familiar with MR construction at the still water site on Cultus Lake. At the more challenging fast water site on the Fraser River, the troops became proficient in using the current of the river to assist in construction and deconstruction of the MR.
It isn’t often that members of 1 CER get the opportunity to build a working elevated cable system. Despite this, all troops built a high quality elevated cable system that successfully transported personnel and stores. Though some challenges did arise, they were mitigated by motivated engineers eager to accomplish the task.
ACROW was constructed by all field troops of the regiment with assistance from heavy equipment. All troops gained a greater understanding of ACROW recce, construction, and de-construction. All three field troops also constructed an NSB. Each troop built a 5m span, using lumber milled on site. Several MGBs were also constructed during Ex SS 17. The MGBs were built on reverse slopes and restricted sites, which tested the mettle of the troops and their leadership.
After nearly three weeks in Chilliwack and the surrounding area, the main body of 1 CER redeployed to Edmonton on 14 May 17, traveling via C-130J from Abbotsford International Airport. The trail party departed the next day and arrived safely at CFB Edmonton on 16 May 17.