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Alan Brown

Product Safety Engineer (RCB2)
"To see a new ship that we’ve built commissioned into any fleet whether it be the Royal Navy or an overseas customer is always a proud moment"
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Business Unit: BAE Systems Maritime - Naval Ships
Hometown: Portsmouth
 

How long have you worked at BAE Systems? 

That is a very good question! I was an employee of VT Shipbuilding from 2001 until it underwent a metamorphosis to become BVT and later to be subsumed into BAE Systems.    

What led you to first join the business? 

Nothing quite so romantic unfortunately! Having taken voluntary redundancy from DERA (now Qinetiq), I responded to an advert in the local newspaper, “Write your way to a better future as a Technical Author with VT Shipbuilding!” I couldn’t resist the challenge, but became employed as a Facilitator in Reliability-Centred Maintenance and later as a Product Safety Engineer instead. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my work in both fields from that day to this and am glad I joined!   

How does it feel to see the first of the River Class Batch 2 (RCB2) OPV’s being commissioned into the RN fleet?

To see a new ship that we’ve built commissioned into any fleet whether it be the RN or an overseas customer is always a proud moment. It is invariably the culmination of a lot of “blood, sweat and tears”. The commissioning of HMS FORTH into the RN is no exception. The proudest moment will be when she finally leaves harbour on her first deployment with all outstanding work embedded and other enhancements in place.

The RCB1 Class has been an outstanding servant to the RN, RCB2 will be better still. Be in no doubt!

Can you describe the part you’ve played in delivering HMS FORTH?

I’ve been a product safety engineer on RCB2 for most of the project and I see my role as a fundamental part of the design process to identify the hazards that ships staff and others will encounter through ship life and duly put into place measures that will either remove the risk of harm to people or reduce it as far as possible. 

I like to describe it in this way: “Imagine a sailor in his spare time running around the upperdeck doing a spot of personal training. He trips over a badly positioned and protruding deck fitting and falls over. He puts his hand out to stop himself and in doing so, he pushes a button that launches an armed missile that lands in Dorking (for arguments sake) to great consternation and gnashing of teeth”. 
 
It’s my job to ensure that scenarios such as this can’t happen…ever but that the function of that deck fitting and that button are preserved, safely. (I should hasten to add that there are no missiles on RCB2 and not too much space for personal training).

Why is it important to you personally to deliver a quality product for our Royal Navy?

Delivering a quality product to the RN or any customer is absolutely vital for the company’s reputation, setting the stall out for winning future orders and knowing that the ship is fit for purpose and the crew, once trained and having passed FOST (Flag Officer Sea Training), are safe to conduct their roles in service. 

What’s been your most memorable FORTH moment?

Based in Portsmouth, there are two memorable moments for me: Firstly visiting FORTH in Govan during build. At the time, there was still much equipment to be fitted and wondering what the final product would look like. Then, the culmination of the transformation from bare steel to finished article, and the commissioning of FORTH at Portsmouth. The bit in between is just “what I do for a living”.

How do you think you’ll feel when you hear or read about the work the ship and her crew are undertaking?

I will always be extremely interested to read or hear about life and work of HMS FORTH and her crew on station. The seas will at times be challenging for the ship and her crew. I wish them well. 

What do you find most exciting and/or rewarding about your role?

To know that you’ve done your best and that the finished ship leaving on her first deployment is as safe as you can make it is both satisfying and rewarding.  It’s nice to be told so too sometimes, I hasten to add. 

What’s important to you about the teams you work with at BAE Systems and RN?

It is important that the people and the teams you work with are competent, knowledgeable and happy to share their knowledge and advice. Also they should be fun to work with. I count myself to have been fortunate in all these areas through the people I’ve worked with from BAE systems, MoD, RN and Contractors on RCB2.

Do you have any advice or messages you would like to give to the crew members?

I’d like to extend my very best wishes to the crew of HMS FORTH and the crews of all the other ships in the class as they enter service. I hope that HMS FORTH meets all their expectations and that when they’ve finished their time on her they are able to look back with fondness and know that she was a “good and happy ship”.