Safety on the agenda

Published on Royal Australian Navy Australian Submarine Force (author), LSIS Lee-Anne Mack (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling

Submarine Safety Manager, Chief Petty Officer Acoustic Warfare Analyst Submariner Michael Bell, explains the safety procedures at the top of the Submarine Escape and Rescue Centre tank to Alcoa maintenance crews, HMAS Stirling, Western Australia. (photo: LSIS Lee-Anne Mack)
Submarine Safety Manager, Chief Petty Officer Acoustic Warfare Analyst Submariner Michael Bell, explains the safety procedures at the top of the Submarine Escape and Rescue Centre tank to Alcoa maintenance crews, HMAS Stirling, Western Australia.

Twenty personnel from Alcoa Australia's Wagerup Bauxite Refinery, situated near Perth, recently visited the Australian Submarine Force as part of an ongoing commitment to safety.

The visit was coordinated by Alcoa's Residue Supervisor, Mr Brad Klopper, and was facilitated by the Submarine Force Safety Cell in conjunction with HMAS Stirling.
 
The purpose of the visit was to gain an insight into how other industries manage safety.
 
The Alcoa team were initially provided with an overview of an incident involving USS Thresher, a nuclear submarine lost at sea with all hands on 10 April 1963.

Submarine Safety Manager, Chief Petty Officer Acoustic Warfare Analyst Submariner Michael Bell, reviews safety procedures of the Submarine Escape and Rescue Centre with members of Alcoa maintenance crews, HMAS Stirling, Western Australia.

Submarine Safety Manager, Chief Petty Officer Acoustic Warfare Analyst Submariner Michael Bell, reviews safety procedures of the Submarine Escape and Rescue Centre with members of Alcoa maintenance crews, HMAS Stirling, Western Australia.


 
Warrant Officer Mark Dixon from the Submarine Force Safety Cell explained the high risk nature of submarine operations and emphasised the point that in any high risk environment, vigilance and adherence to procedures are paramount to safety.
 
Warrant Officer Dixon said the parallels were not lost on the Alcoa team especially when he explained Navy's SUBSAFE program for cultural change.
 
"Questions and discussion were plentiful with the visiting team suitably impressed with Navy's processes, procedures and overall commitment to safety," he said.
 
The submarine community has fostered a safety culture throughout the entire submarine enterprise, including prime and sub-contractors, aiming to apply rigour to every aspect of submarine operations, regardless of how benign it may appear at face value.
 
Guests were also given a tour of the Submarine Escape and Rescue Centre. This included a demonstration by staff conducting free ascents from the nine metre lock. A visit to the Submarine Training and Systems Centre and a step by step overview of submarine training from the initial course to ongoing simulator training was also of interest, from a safety perspective.
 
Overall, a very successful day for both parties which emphasised and displayed Navy’s and Alcoa’s commitment and continual improvement to safety.