News>Determination, ingenuity prevail for Bagram Airmen
Master Sgt. John Moreland checks the gauges on a water-well digging rig during an operational check March 21 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. More than $400,000 of damage to the rig was repaired at a cost of $80. Sergeant Moreland is the 819th RED HORSE Squadron metals technology NCO in charge deployed from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester)
Airmen from the 819th RED HORSE Squadron drill a test hole to operationally check a water-well digging rig March 21 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. More than $400,000 of damage to the rig was repaired at a cost of $80. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Demetrius Lester)
by Tech. Sgt. James Law
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
3/25/2008 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- When Airmen of the 819th RED HORSE Squadron here were faced with a $400,000 challenge in March, they used ingenuity to save the Air Force hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A water-well drilling rig was shipped from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in September 2007, but a series of incidents prevented the rig to arrive as scheduled and it was damaged.
After reaching a port in Pakistan, the rig was loaded onto a flatbed trailer to be hauled to Bagram Air Base, but en route the driver got the 34-ton piece of equipment stuck in a tunnel. Air was released from the trailer's tires to back it out of the tunnel, but both the rig and the trailer were damaged.
Traveling a different route and using a different trailer, the transport broke requiring the drilling rig to be transferred to another truck and trailer. In the process, the rig came off the trailer and flipped over on its side. The rig is one of two in the Air Force's inventory.
"We were originally told when we got here (in October) that it had sustained $413,000 in damage and that it was not repairable," said Master Sgt. John Moreland, the 819th RED HORSE metals technology NCO in charge.
This estimation was made after a list of damaged parts was compiled and a quote from the manufacture for replacement costs was obtained, Sergeant Moreland said. He reassessed the rig, determined it could be repaired and requested authorization to fix it.
"Knowing what my skills are, knowing my abilities and knowing the group of people assigned here with me are the reasons I believed we could repair this unit," Sergeant Moreland said. "(Air Combat Command officials) wanted to have a representative from (the manufacturer) to come over and make a technical assessment to determine what parts they were going to need and if it was repairable."
The manufacturer was contacted with the request, but was reluctant to send a technician into a potentially hostile environment, Sergeant Moreland said. Without the manufacturer's assessment and not being able to meet the ACC requirement, it appeared the rig was destined to be turned into the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office as scrap metal. But he continued to work the subject with his chain of command who in turn kept in contact with ACC.
Approximately three months after making the request, Sergeant Moreland received authorization to make whatever repairs possible without spending any money.
Sergeant Moreland's first action was removing a mast weighing roughly 12,000 pounds and determining the best course of action to make the repairs.
"The one item that was a go or no-go for the repair was the mast," Sergeant Moreland said. "It was twisted at the top about 2.5 inches."
The mast is the main drilling component that stands 36 feet high and hoists and lowers the drill pipe as well as provides the rotational torque required to turn the drill pipe and drill bit.
Sergeant Moreland used chains, hydraulic tools and construction equipment to manipulate the mast's frame back to specifications. With the mast repaired, Sergeant Moreland focused on fabricating and repairing dozens of smaller components required before reassembling the rig.
"I jumped in and started helping at the point when there was a lot of tedious work that was going to be very time consuming for one person," said Tech. Sgt. Casey Kuhn, an 819th RED HORSE heavy equipment operator.
"Sergeant Kuhn was a huge part helping me get the thing back together," Sergeant Moreland said. "We could anticipate what the other person was going to do and what we needed to do."
Less than seven weeks after starting the repairs and $80 spent on two bearings, the well digger was ready for an operational check. The RED HORSE Airmen setup the rig and drilled a 71-foot test hole.
"We were able to do all the testing we needed to do in the depth we drilled," Sergeant Moreland said. "Everything on the rig worked as it was supposed to."
"It's impressive what they've accomplished in such a short period of time," said Capt. Matt Sturtevant, the 1st Expeditionary RED HORSE Group officer in charge. "I think a lot of people had given up on this actually coming together, but thanks to the efforts of Sergeant Moreland and Sergeant Kuhn, we're able to deliver and just in time for spring."
The water-well drilling rig will be used to provide water sources to coalition forces at forward operating bases throughout Afghanistan.