National planning approach at FSU delivers outcome

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Kerrie Moore (author), POIS James Whittle (photographer)

Location(s): Darwin, NT

Topic(s): Fleet Support Unit

Royal Australian Navy sailor, Leading Seaman Marine Technician Cameron Campbell, of Fleet Support Unit-South East (Sydney) welds 12.7mm Browning machine gun mounts in the armoury of HMAS Glenelg. (photo: POIS James Whittle)
Royal Australian Navy sailor, Leading Seaman Marine Technician Cameron Campbell, of Fleet Support Unit-South East (Sydney) welds 12.7mm Browning machine gun mounts in the armoury of HMAS Glenelg.

A national approach to planning by Fleet Support Unit (FSU) is facilitating delivery of a simple goal: to enable seaworthiness through maintenance and repair.

Recently this national approach saw FSU assist the Patrol Boat fleet in Darwin, despite a unexpected problem with their onsite FSU welders. The welding task involved attaching specific mounts in the armoury of Armidale Class Patrol Boats (ACPB).

“When the task was taken on by FSU Darwin we originally had two welders available to undertake the aluminium welding,” said Chief Petty Office Darren Harkins, Project Planner at FSU-North.

“One then posted out and the other became temporarily unavailable at short notice, so we had a problem.

“We didn’t want to cancel the work and hand the task back to Patrol Boat SPO (Systems Program Office) to deal with; that might have been past practice, but it is not how we do things now,” he said.

What this meant was looking nationally within FSU, with two welders, Leading Seaman Cameron Campbell and Able Seaman Mathew Gates, travelling up from FSU in Sydney to assist the Patrol Boats.

In mid-October, LS Campbell and AB Gates successfully welded the necessary items. LS Campbell had previous experience with the complexities of welding on the aluminium ACPBs.

“I really welcomed the challenge of working on a task that required different techniques to what I normally employ at FSU,” said LS Campbell.

AB Gates, who ventured to Darwin for the first time, was excited that the task allowed him to see another part of the country, work on a different class of ship and expand his trade knowledge.

“The flexibility of FSU is on show, and I am grateful for the opportunity and privileged that we could be part of this job,” he said.

Patrol Boat SPO Director, Captain Christopher Eggleton said he was extremely impressed with the ability of the FSU to provide resources at a national level.

“Having booked the FSU for this task, this gives me a heightened level of confidence in their ability to deliver and I’m glad to see FSU here to carry out the work.

“Reallocation of the work so close to the activity would have necessitated going to market which, with such short notice, would have realised emergent cost penalties.

“Altogether a great result for the Patrol Boat enterprise,” CAPT Eggleton said.

Deputy Director National Operations for FSU, Commander John De Bomford said FSU has fully adopted the national approach and is becoming a more agile organisation.

“It is important that if FSU take on a task that we complete that task,” CMDR De Bomford said.

“It’s up to us to deliver what we promised and I am glad to see that we have been able to assist the Patrol Boats in maintaining their capability.”