Members of Canada's Fleet Diving Unit (FDU) face many risks– but for the unit at CFB Esquimalt, one of theirs was on dry land.

The buildings that make up the FDU at Esquimalt were constructed many years ago at the foot of a rock wall which had become a concern over time. To keep everyone safe, a plan was made to scale the rock, remove debris and install rock bolt anchors and wire mesh, said Patrick Heintz, DCC Team Leader, Construction Services at CFB Esquimalt.

The challenges faced for the DND and DCC project team were wide ranging.

First, the area at the top of the slope is a known First Nations archeological site with a burial cairn near by. Every step of work had to be carefully monitored to ensure this was not impacted.

Second, the crews weren't sure how much they would have to scale back—old artillery fire against the wall that had started some of the cracking, and it was unclear how deep the damage went and how much needed to be removed. In the end, 510 truckloads were taken off site—2,800 m3 in volume. Some boulders that came down were the size of small vehicles.

That takes a lot of coordination: including the building of berms to protect buildings and full reliance on generators while power poles in the area were unavailable. Keeping the FDU operating 24/7 was of critical importance.

The $3.3-million project lasted 18 months and was completed in May 2019. The FDU are back using the spaces below the now-reinforced wall.

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