Fleet Support Unit enhancements assist Navy capability

Published on Mr Martin Drebber (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Location(s): Garden Island, Sydney

Topic(s): HMAS Parramatta (F154), Naval Engineering, Fleet Support Unit

Head Navy Engineering, Rear Admiral Colin Lawrence, RAN (centre front), and Navy Engineering Command Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Christopher Rowley (front centre left), are flanked by Fleet Support Unit Australia and Fleet Support Unit - South East personnel in the workshop at Garden Island, Sydney, after completing HMAS Parramatta's External Maintenance Period. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
Head Navy Engineering, Rear Admiral Colin Lawrence, RAN (centre front), and Navy Engineering Command Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Christopher Rowley (front centre left), are flanked by Fleet Support Unit Australia and Fleet Support Unit - South East personnel in the workshop at Garden Island, Sydney, after completing HMAS Parramatta's External Maintenance Period.

Navy is rebuilding the Fleet Support Unit (FSU) in order to enhance the capability of technical sailors to conduct maintenance and manufacturing when they are at sea. Central to achieving this goal has been ensuring that the right type of work is being conducted in volume. The program has been gathering momentum in recent months.

In late 2017 the FSU, together with Maritime Systems Division (MSD) and industry partners the Warship Asset Management Alliance (WAMA), entered into a contractual agreement to significantly increase the volume of external level maintenance which will be conducted by the FSU on the FFH mission system over the next 5 years, to between $60 million and $100 million. This agreement began on 1 January 2018.

Since coming into force, the volume of external maintenance conducted by the FSU during each External Maintenance Period (EMP) has steadily increased. In late May 2018, FSU-SE(K) commenced the largest external maintenance package it has conducted in several years in HMAS Parramatta. With 169 jobs and over 7000 hours of work, the FSU-SE(K) successfully completed 43% of the Main Work List, delivering $1.6 million worth of savings to MSD along with tangible improvements to the technical mastery of the FSU sailors.

To achieve this result FSU sailors were required to work collaboratively across multiple FSU work centres, and in cooperation with many external contractors. The FSU team embraced the opportunity to make such a tangible contribution to this large maintenance package, and maintained a high level of enthusiasm and commitment throughout.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Kurtis Jones was one of the sailors involved in the Parramatta EMP.

“It was a busy time and I feel that FSU took on a big chunk of the refit package and successfully completed all tasks in a timely matter,” he said.

“We also delivered quality workmanship, proving that FSU is a professional and efficient work force, further cementing that reputation throughout the fleet.

Personally I enjoyed the tempo of work and increased workload,” said AB Jones.

Leading Seaman Joseph Cheetham expressed similar sentiment.

“I have witnessed FSU change dramatically in the last twelve months.

“The workforce is extremely professional and organised, capable of completing major depot level maintenance tasks by utilising its assets to provide a sustainable and cost effective service to the Navy.”

The success of this EMP was an enterprise effort which was enabled by robust communication, commitment and buy-in to an integrated approach between the FSU and Naval Ship Management (NSM).

FSU and NSM engaged very early in the program agreement to understand the challenges they were jointly facing to facilitate the ramp up of the FSU.

It was only through recognising the obstacles together that both organisations could develop processes to deal with them. The most satisfying outcome for both the FSU and NSM was the shift in both groups towards better enabling each other to achieve common objectives. The relationships developed across all levels of both organisations have been solidified by this success and the excitement of what can be achieved for Navy.