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Supporting the Foreign Office in Tristan da Cunha

FCDO Services mobilised rapidly to provide emergency support after severe storms caused widespread damage to official buildings on this tiny and remote British Dependency.

The impact of the storm in July 2019 needed to be surveyed so that buildings could be quickly restored. We sent a structural-and-civil engineer on the long journey to inspect the damage and recommend repairs.

Tristan da Cunha is about 1,500 miles off the coast of Cape Town in the South Atlantic Ocean. With no airport, the only way to get there is by boat. After flying into Cape Town, the journey took a further 9 days on a South African fishing boat.

The work involved 3 key areas.

Assessing structural damage

First, we assessed structural damage to official properties and gave advice on the integrity of other structures on the island. Several buildings were affected including the governor’s residence and the administration building.

Our engineer put together a report with recommendations for remedial repairs to be carried out by trained locals.

Electrical inspection

Second, we carried out electrical inspections on the buildings, liaising with one of our UK-based electrical engineers. Our engineer supplied an electrical rewiring specification for the local electrician to follow, meeting best practice standards.

Future-proofing communications

During the storm, the IT servers in the administration building sustained water damage and had to be shut down. These systems are integral to maintaining communications on the island and with the outside world.

Our engineer conducted a survey to assess the vulnerability of this vital communications equipment and put forward a proposal. This piece of work will be carried out in a future project.

We worked closely with the Foreign Office administrator in Tristan, and our recommendations have been well received. We look forward to returning to Tristan in the future to deliver our proposed solution to protect and future-proof the island’s communications equipment.