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Engineers on the Sava

By Cpl. Nicolas Girault
First published in
SFOR Informer#113, May 16, 2001

Stara Gradiska - Slowly the barge, which is able to carry six trucks on board, leaves the Sava's bank, which marks the border between BiH and Croatia. The two BMK 130 motor boats (made in Russia), push it to the opposite bank.
On the floating bridge, which coasts in Croatia, are about 15 men and a Hungarian truck full of sand. The engineers waiting on the shore came to help their comrades to stow down the craft, then to place the footbridge for the truck landing.
Lt. Col. György Györky from Nova Gradiska Hungarian engineering base, located about three kilometers away, lead the operation. The engineer multinational team rounded up on the Sava bank to listen to the orders translated by Lt. Jozsef Toth, helicopter pilot and English-speaker. A few metres from there, Australian Cpt. Leigh Bosworth, staff engineer for MND SW, observed the operation.
Then 20 or so women and men climbed on the floating bridge to dismantle different pontoons which constitute its structure. Then each of the pontoons was hoisted, one by one, onto a truck equipped with a crane.
Working together
It was the end of the joint manoeuvre, which took place between May 8 and 10. It allowed four contingents to work with about 25 Hungarian engineers of the Raft and Bridge Company from Nova Gradiska. Seven Czechs from the Ljubja 5th Mechanised Engineer Squadron, eight Canadians from the Zgon 24th Field Engineer Squadron, one New Zealander and six British from the Mrkonjic Grad 3rd Engineer Squadron.
In the beginning, the Hungarians only wanted to carry sand from a Bosnian sand quarry to work in their Nova Gradiska camp. It would have been too simple to use the existing bridge, less than a kilometre from there! So they decided to manage a Sava crossing operation. The operation took place at the point where in 1996 Hungarian engineers built the "Zuzanna" bridge (now dismantled) for SFOR deployment in an area full of mines.
To cross the rivers in spate
"The staff engineer in Banja Luka asked us if it was possible to help in this work," Györki said. British 2nd Lt. Frances Heith added, "It allows learning techniques and mixed work."
Bosworth explained that this kind of exercise permits SFOR's training "to cross rivers in spate and to face natural disasters."
The only concern, and everybody agreed, were the language difficulties. But every engineer, wherever they come from, always understood themselves. "Guys worked fine. It would be interesting restarting the work together and to use different kinds of techniques and materials," Györki concluded.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Australia, New Zeland, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, UK
Engineering - bridge stories, Training and Exercises