RED HORSE Squadron teams up with Navy Seabees to construct B-Hut energy test site

  • Published
  • By Sarah McNair
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – A recent construction project, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, provides a test bed for next generation energy technologies.

The barracks huts project brought together crews from the 823rd Air Force Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer, known as RED HORSE, and Navy sailors from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Eleven, known as Navy Seabees. 

The RED HORSE-Seabees mission was to construct two B-Huts, at Tyndall to determine how to improve the energy efficiency of the structures. 

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Airbase Technologies Branch conducts all phases of the research, development, test and evaluation and acquisition processes for the Air Force civil engineering enterprise. The advanced energy and utilities team, led by Reza Salavani, evaluates new energy technologies for meeting future CE operational needs. 

The joint crews, manned by eight Airmen from nearby Hurlburt Field and 17 sailors from Gulfport, Mississippi, fabricated two fully functional Air Force standard B-Huts in only 12 days. The project provided a unique opportunity for the crews to work side-by-side and exchange best practices and lessons learned, said Lt. j.g. Pat Collins, Seabees lead.

Both Collins and RED HORSE lead Tech. Sgt. Tim Nelon agreed that the cross-feed of information was valuable. While RED HORSE teams have worked with Navy Seabees on previous deployments, the operational tempo that the teams work under rarely allows for an exchange of ideas regarding improvements in construction materials and methods, they said.

“Feedback from the team was positive and reaffirmed the value of cross-training opportunities like this prior to upcoming deployments,” said Nelon. 

The B-Huts were outfitted with a full electrical package and provisions for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. 

B-Huts, commonly used by the U.S. military at temporary locations around the globe, typically aren’t energy efficient, Salavani said.

“These structures will be used as a starting point to explore and innovate energy technologies that will improve the energy efficiency of rigid wall shelters,” said Salavani.  

While efficient use of energy is a priority across the Department of Defense as a whole, it is also particularly important when it comes to the safety of U.S. military personnel utilizing B-Huts. There is a high rate of casualties associated with refueling convoys transporting fuel, which is needed to sustain B-Hut operation. “Reducing fossil fuels consumption reduces the amount and frequency of fuel deliveries to forward operating bases at dangerous locations,” Salavani said. “Developing a way to Improve their energy efficiency, which is the objective for this exercise, would not only reduce operational costs but also decrease risk probability of attack, making forward operating bases less vulnerable to adversaries and keep our Airmen safe,” he said.