Mission: Bridge demolition training

The Royal Engineers have successfully carried out an overnight exercise in Rochester.

Named Exercise Bridge Dem and run by the Royal School of Military Engineering (RSME), the mission was to prepare a mock demolition of Rochester’s Old Bridge. Participants were from the Royal Engineer Troop Commanders’ Course (RETCC), with the exercise facilitated by the Rochester Bridge Trust.

Major Louisa Gostling RE of RSME said: “The exercise would normally take place on a training ground, so this was a great opportunity to work in full view of the public, conducting realistic training in a complex urban environment. The uncertainties of passers-by and their interest and questions gave an added challenge to the event and we are grateful to the Rochester Bridge Trust for allowing us to use its bridge.”

Working through the night, the troops placed imitation charges at key points of the Old Bridge structure, to create a simulated reserved demolition of one span. This involved them using safety equipment to climb into and onto the bowstring trusses which support the bridge. The bridge remained open to the public at all times.

Ilona Hurrell of the Rochester Bridge Trust said: “We were pleased to be able to accommodate the Royal Engineers’ request to carry out military training on our Old Bridge. This exercise took place at the same time as our planned maintenance, meaning the soldiers worked alongside our contractor as an example of good partnership working within the community – and minimising disruption to road users.”

During the training, a group of members of the public took part in an organised tour, meeting the engineers responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the bridges at Rochester, and finding out more about the army training. Other members of the public were able to watch from the footway on the Old Bridge.

Pictures courtesy of Rob Gilbert, Arcadis