Shark Tank innovations changing the face of HMAS Albatross

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), LSIS Kayla Jackson (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross, NSW

Topic(s): Innovation, Fleet Air Arm

Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor James Walker, Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Adrian Pendlebury and Deputy Commodore Fleet Air Arm, Captain Grant O'Loughlan, RAN, cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the outdoor training area at HMAS Albatross. (photo: LSIS Kayla Jackson)
Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor James Walker, Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Adrian Pendlebury and Deputy Commodore Fleet Air Arm, Captain Grant O'Loughlan, RAN, cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the outdoor training area at HMAS Albatross.

The Fleet Air Arm’s Shark Tank was a series of interactive forums where personnel, no matter rank or role, were invited to pitch proposals for improvements to the workplace.

Ideas were wide ranging and have delivered cost savings, and improvements to safety, training, equipment and fitness.

Able Seaman Aircraft Technician Avionics Adrian Pendlebury’s pitch for an outdoor training area (OTA) in the Western Romeo Precinct of HMAS Albatross resulted from being unable to access the Albatross gym due to distance, time constraints and work commitments impacting on the time available for allocated sport.

“My initial proposal was to install an OTA in the Romeo Precinct, which would allow personnel who didn’t work in the main area of the base, especially the non-joggers amongst us, the opportunity to regularly engage in physical exercise.”

“I sold it as a small investment with lots of positive results.

“Some of these being that a fit and resilient workforce is a positive and thinking workforce, and if our people are easily able to look after themselves by completing PT more regularly, they will be able to respond to the demanding requirements of our work and this would also assist in founding greater esprit de corps,” Able Seaman Pendlebury said.

The initial concept was expanded to include extra OTAs in the area between the Headquarters Fleet Air Arm and Base Admin buildings, and two smaller areas at the athletic track outside the Albatross gym.

With the assistance of the Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) and input from base personnel, the equipment and site selection options were forwarded to the Estate & Infrastructure Group (E&IG) and has now resulted in first class facilities designed for all fitness levels.

Deputy Commander Fleet Air Arm, Captain Grant O’Loughlan, who joined Able Seaman Pendlebury in cutting the ribbon to declare the facilities open, said the OTAs had been made possible by the cost-savings that resulted from another Shark Tank suggestion.

“In 2017, Able Seamen Ben Price and Brad Watson highlighted an innovative safety solution involving the construction of a Positive Breathing Apparatus.

“The benefits of the unit not only included a ‘positive’ fit to user’s features, it projected, and has realised, savings in the order of $250K per year.

“The Fleet Air Arm made a request to Deputy Chief of Navy to reinvest these savings in the OTA concept promoted by Able Seaman Pendlebury.

“The OTAs not only support the Fleet Air Arm’s ‘fit to fight’ ethos, but also offer a practical alternative for staff that gets them away from their desks, enjoying the outdoors.

“I’m sure PTI staff will be also be using the facilities to support ongoing training opportunities for all base personnel,” Captain O’Loughlan said.

Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor James Walker agreed, saying the OTAs offered a range of fitness equipment and workout options.

“They provide an outstanding outlet for personnel looking to get outdoors and improve their health and wellbeing.

“The use of the OTAs are vast and provide the opportunity for members to add bodyweight relative strength training into their regime,” he said.

There’s currently a number of other The Fleet Air Arm’s Shark Tank concepts at various stages of being tracked into service.

These include a MH-60R (helicopter) Life Raft Pod, a Deployable ‘Bird Bath’ helicopter wash bay system, Rescue Hoist Rinse Trolley, Ground Support Team Wireless Headset and a HMAS Albatross Vehicle Maintenance/General Purpose Workshop.

Asked how it felt to see his proposal come to fruition, Able Seaman Pendlebury it was a satisfying group effort.

“There’s been a lot of hard work by E&IG, the FAAST Focus Groups led by Lieutenant Commander (Peter) Kenworthy and the PTI branch.

“I think it’s a shining example of what a simple idea and a committed team can achieve,” he said.