News: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 Water Well Detachment completes Mescall water well
Story by Chief Petty Officer Yan Kennon
ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan – After five weeks of around-the-clock operations, Seabees assigned to U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 Water Well Detachment successfully completed the drilling of their first fresh water well at Forward Operating Base Mescall.
The detachment of Seabees departed the Battalion’s mainbody site at Kandahar Airfield Feb. 7 and began base camp setup the next day at Forward Operating Base Mescall, located 4,595 feet above sea level in the Shah Joy district of Zabul province.
Detachment personnel were divided into three separate crews (Towers), led by Equipment Operator 1st Class Michal Shafer, Equipment Operator 2nd Class Mark Palmer and Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Scott Klausner. Each crew worked equal eight hour shifts, through snow, high winds and single digit temperatures to keep the drilling operations going 24 hours a day.
The crew was prepared to drill in excess of 1,200 feet for its projected water table, but hit its mark after drilling through 903 feet of sand, stone, and clay.
The Seabees' success did not come without minor setbacks. Delays in getting needed fuel and water, due to a two-day snow storm, were a couple of obstacles the Seabees had to overcome.
"Fuel and water shortages really compressed our drilling timelines,” said Equipment Operator 1st Class Michal Shafer, a native of Sioux Falls, S.D., and assistant officer in charge. “But I had very high confidence in our crew that we would finish this mission on schedule. That’s what Seabees do, complete their mission and prepare for the next."
The Seabees began the exploratory drilling using a 6-inch pilot hole, sampling the earth at predetermined depths. The Seabees hit their first water formation at 500 feet. After testing water samples, they decided to continue drilling where they hit another water table and their ultimate stopping point at 903 feet. At that point, the crew widened the borehole and installed casings, screens and gravel pack to allow water to flow into the well and keep unwanted materials, such as sand and dirt out.
Next the crew mixed and pumped cement between the casing and borehole wall, a method often referred to as “grouting the well”, to make a sanitary seal to prevent any downward leakage of contaminants from the surface, which also prevents intermixing of ground water between water-bearing zones encountered while drilling.
The Seabees then developed the well, the final step before declaring the well operational. Development is a procedure used to maximize the well yield. The two main reasons for well development are to clean the filter cake from the borehole wall and to remove unwanted sediments and particles from the pipe so that water will flow more freely into the well.
The well completion at Forward Operating Base Mescall, named after U.S. Army Maj. Brian Mescall who was killed January 2009 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Jaldak while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, allows the Romanian army-controlled forward operating base to be completely self-sufficient without concern for cost-consuming water contracts.
"This is our team’s first official drill down range,” said Chief Equipment Operator Jerry Greer, a native of Helena, Ark., and the detachment’s officer in charge. “Drilling this well provided a lot of good training for our crew, which will make the next drill easier for us. We're very happy with the results and are looking forward to our next assignment.”
The Seabees will return back to the battalion’s mainbody site to make minor equipment repairs and perform scheduled maintenance before redeploying to their next drilling site, which has yet to be determined.
NMCB 7 deployed to the Combined Joint Operations Area–Afghanistan, from its homeport of Gulfport, Miss. Jan. 9, to provide a highly responsive and maneuverable engineer force and resources to conduct contingency, mobility and general engineering support operations across supported commander’s lines of operation throughout U.S. Central Command, to improve the operational capabilities of coalition forces.
NMCB 7, often referred to as the “Magnificent Seven," is one of the original 10 Seabee battalions authorized by the chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Yards and Docks in 1942 and is currently one of nine active naval mobile construction battalions in the naval construction force, a military engineering force of nearly 17,000 active and reserve component Seabees operating worldwide. Upon completion of their current deployment, NMCB 7 will decommission Sept. 30 as part of the fiscal year 2012 force reduction plan.
This work, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 7 Water Well Detachment completes Mescall water well, by Yan Kennon, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.