"Many of the tasks I am required to complete are very reactive and may include a whole range of activities - from embarking ships to witness trials, to contributing to high profile briefs to senior Royal Navy personnel."
Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) is primarily based at MoD Abbeywood in Bristol and provides the through life support (CADMID) to many of the armed forces’ equipment and ordnance. Within DE&S, I am employed as the Maritime Engineer within the Short-Range Air Defence (SHORAD) project team. We provide support to the SeaWolf and SeaCeptor missile systems fitted to T23 frigates, as well as the RT997 (industry name ARTISAN) surveillance radar that is fitted to T23s, Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) and the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers.
SHORAD is comprised of approximately 70 personnel, of which about 10% is military and the rest being civil servants. My primary role as the Maritime Engineer is to manage all support to the front-line units that use our systems. This will include (but is by no means limited to) managing a team of Royal Navy engineers to provide support for defect rectification, programming trials and offering technical advice/assistance to all relevant stakeholders. Many of the tasks I am required to complete are very reactive and may include a whole range of activities - from embarking ships to witness trials, to contributing to high profile briefs to senior Royal Navy personnel. I often travel around the country to various meetings and working groups discussing our systems, their support and future capability improvement.
The above tasks require close liaison with industry partners such as BAE and MBDA (original equipment manufacturers), as well as a whole range of military organisations such as trials and testing authorities, the Military Aviation Authority, dockyard authorities and Navy Command.
The role has unquestionably improved my engineering management skills. It has required me to think outside of solely the technical aspects and assess how wider project management constraints might affect them - including finance, commercial and portfolio restrictions. With the focus also on professional development, I have managed to achieve various qualifications during this role, including the APM Project Management Qualification. Not only will this undoubtedly help me become a more well-rounded engineer, but it has contributed towards me achieving my professional registration.
As a Yorkshireman, the location of this role is also ideal for me as I am based that little bit closer to home than usual, with the weekend commute being easily manageable. The working environment is very relaxed, with high levels of trust placed in employees. We are subject to flexible working and can work from home using our work IT when we need to. The onus is on the employees to manage their workload and, providing their output remains as expected, the arrangement suits both the managers and the staff.
This draft lasts for approximately two and a half years and has consistently been both interesting and rewarding. It is a good example of a Weapon Engineer Officer’s role outside that of the stereotypical naval setting.