Kerry, Mechanical and electrical fitter
BAE Systems’ former apprentice Kerry Knight can’t believe her luck… as a child living on the south coast of England she dreamed of working with small boats.
Five years after completing her apprenticeship, she’s now part of the team who designed, manufactured and tested the Pacific 24 Rigid Inflatable Boats that will be going onto the giant aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
With top speeds of up to 38 knots (44mph), the RIBs are versatile rapid response craft which can be deployed from either ship or shore.
At 7.8 metres long and weighing just over two tonnes each, they are completely dwarfed by the carrier, which is a mighty 280 metres and weighs in at 75,000 tonnes.
“I’m so chuffed and I’ll be really proud to see them on board,” Kerry said. “I can’t wait for the carrier to come into Portsmouth Naval Base. The sheer size of her is mind-blowing.”
A latecomer to the industry, Kerry embarked on her apprenticeship at the age of 25. “I was told that the best way to get into boats was to train as a car mechanic so that’s what I did but I don’t like cars so when I saw the apprenticeship at BAE Systems I went for it and got it.”
She hasn’t looked back. Since completing her apprenticeship mum-of-one Kerry has received a whole raft of training – including sea survival, first aid at sea, day skipper, advanced power boat, yacht master and radar. She can even operate a crane!
Kerry has been closely involved in the development of the latest Mk IV version of the Pacific 24, one of the most technically advanced RIBs in the world, which has been proven in service with the UK Ministry of Defence, UK police, and overseas military and para-military organisations.
Deployed from HMS Queen Elizabeth, the RIBs will be invaluable in performing emergency rescue, anti-piracy and counter-narcotics missions.
Highly skilled, Kerry now works on the complex mechanical and electrical heart of the RIBs, and even gets to trial them out in the Solent before they’re delivered to the customer.
“I love my job and I’m proud to be involved in producing the Pacific 24s, the way they turn and manoeuvre is fantastic – they are phenomenal,” she said.
She has no hesitation in recommending apprenticeships as a great way to get on the career ladder.