Babcock’s novel approach to submarine support to improve availability and reduce cost

1st Sep 2010

UK engineering company Babcock says a new ‘contracting for availability’ (CfA) approach to Trafalgar class submarine in-service support in the UK, to optimise submarine availability and reduce maintenance costs, is likely to attract interest in Australia, as the Strategic Reform Program (SRP) targets similar outcomes.

The new approach to T-class submarine in-service support has been introduced by a joint UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Babcock team, and the contract arrangements have been incorporated into the Warship Support Modernisation Initiative (WSMI) agreement between Babcock and the MoD at Devonport.

Babcock Pty’s business development director Australia, Ken Grove, points out: “This initiative has relevance for Australia where similar requirements are highlighted in the SRP, and Collins class availability has been a well publicised issue for the DMO in recent years. The approach is dependent on the MoD, Royal Navy and Babcock working as a single ‘enterprise’ to deliver aligned objectives, and Babcock is keen to transfer this expertise to the naval platform sustainment sector in Australia through our Australian operation. We were recently selected to bid for the Major Fleet Unit Group Repair and Maintenance project in collaboration with UGL Infrastructure.”

Contracting for Availability is an output-focused commercial arrangement that incentivises improvement in asset availability, where availability is defined as an asset (in this case T-class submarines) fulfilling its programmed requirement. Its introduction for T-class submarine support is a first for the UK submarine community (where the approach has further aligned the availability measurement throughout the submarine community, providing a joint common goal), following successful application in other areas of defence.

A key starting point in establishing a contracting for availability approach for T-class submarines has been to quantify and analyse the availability of the submarines today, and to identify and fully understand the factors that impact on delivery of Fleet Time Support maintenance periods.

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