Banish all images of Caribbean pleasure cruises, jet ferries or ocean racing. The catamarans at HM Naval Base Clyde have a far more prosaic purpose - albeit one that is essential to the maintenance of the Royal Navy's nuclear submarine fleet.
The hard-working catamarans in question act alongside berths as services conduits, sitting between the jetty and the submarine. But as they are made of steel and subject to corrosion, they require regular and thorough inspection and repair. Since they are integral to a nuclear maintenance environment, nothing can be left to chance.
Maintenance involves shotblasting internal surfaces to their bare metal, carrying out the necessary surveys and repairs, and then re-applying specialist paint. The work itself isn't problematic - it's the fact that it takes an entire berth out of service for around 10 weeks that creates all the pressure.
Essentially, you need to pick an optimum Facility Maintenance Period of minimum disruption, and then be ready to move heaven and earth to stick to it. In this, cross-departmental planning and collaboration is absolutely everything. Everybody potentially affected is involved - from managers, production staff and shift teams to technical specialists, planners and co-ordinators. If you can also use the shutdown to carry out other key maintenance requirements at the berth - anything and everything from repainting turnstiles to crane repair - then you've made the very best use of the time.
This was exactly what happened over the most recent maintenance Period at 11 Berth - the programme finished well ahead of schedule. And the Work Package Manager responsible for making it all happen was Jamie Scott, Technology Studies and Management (Hons) graduate and a recent graduate trainee. Basically, it was his role to look after all the planning and co-ordination, and make sure that none of a multitude of activities would be thrown into conflict. The way he went about it was an object lesson in thorough, quietly organised professionalism.
Operations Manager James McCarte, was suitably impressed. "Jamie took it upon himself to conduct a progress meeting every afternoon, and circulate the results. He pulled together everyone - the stakeholders, the supervisors, the workforce, team leaders, engineers, planners and the facility manager himself. It was a cracking opportunity for him to learn, because he was getting involved in things that he knew nothing about."
"The base at Clyde creates openings for mechanical and electrical-biased graduates who can take on a wide variety of technical issues. But having the right personal attributes - the ability to work productively with people from all backgrounds, cultures and walks of life - is really important. Jamie just took a grip of the whole situation. He talked to the right people and asked the right questions - and more than once, he succeeded in fast-tracking work where others had failed in the past. We've got a good guy here, definitely."