Fleet Support Unit (FSU) is an organisation within the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). FSU provides repair and maintenance services to the Fleet and is the home of the Navy’s uniformed maintenance workforce when they are ashore. FSU has regional hubs across Australia; in Sydney (at Fleet Base East and Middle Harbour), Perth, Cairns, Darwin, and a National Office located at Defence Plaza, Sydney CBD. FSU has over 750 employees and is comprised of Navy Officers, Senior Sailors, Australian Public Service (APS) staff, and Junior Sailors (Marine Technicians, Electronic Technicians, and Boatswains Mates). Practically all of the Navy’s technical sailors will be employed at FSU at some point in their career. FSU works in partnership with industry, Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) and the Navy Fleet in a spirit of collaboration to achieve an enduring program of sustainment activity.
FSU is a core provider of repair and maintenance services – improving the seaworthiness of the Navy’s Ships and submarines. In addition to providing an excellent sustainment outcome, FSU provides consistent and enduring meaningful work for the Navy’s sailors ashore. FSU provides an engaging and satisfying work experience in order to improve the Navy’s talent retention and workforce resilience. FSU collaborates with Defence Industry partners through outplacement/secondment programs and FSU sailors routinely work alongside industry partners on common tasks. FSU also provides direct maintenance services to Navy ships both locally and all around the world. FSU’s success is determined by the utilisation of its staff on sustainment work (measuring the provision of meaningful work/ workforce productivity) and the sustainment offset (measured in dollars). The combination of those two key metrics measures FSU’s ability to be a trusted sustainment provider to Navy and CASG as well as be regarded as a great place to work by Navy’s sailors.
In order to ensure that reform within FSU endured and delivered highly successful outcomes, the structure and method of the reform was multifaceted. FSU undertook all reforms with the outcome in mind. It identified key organisational objectives which were used to drive facilitation of cultural enrichment and change within the organisation so that any organisational change stuck, and so that everyone felt vested in the changes. The overall objectives of the organisation for 2019 were to improve workforce productivity, increase sustainment offset to a target across all classes of ship and rebuild the reputation of FSU. These objectives were communicated well and drove the overall strategy of FSU.
In order to meet the broad strategic aims, experts and established best practice solutions were brought on to fuel key initiatives. FSU underwent significant organisational introspection during the development of the strategic program in order to determine skill and expertise gaps within the leadership team. FSU engaged and created a role for a data analytics specialist to assist in providing data driven insights to meet the strategic outcomes. The data analyst developed dashboards for the organisation, identifying key risks and gaps for the organisation moving forward, and was critical in driving the upgrade of the IMPPACT software.
The 2019 process improvements were successful due to internal collaboration. Having the right people find the solutions, involving the experts at the right time, asking the right questions, and ensuring that the right achievements were made public, drove the success of this series of initiatives in 2019. Significantly, the achievements of 2019 put in place the firm foundations for the future. And while the improvements in workforce utilisation were impressive, FSU still has a way to go to truly optimise and reach its full potential. The robust and repeatable data analytics system enables consistent measurement as FSU moves forward, and allows better understanding of the levers that drive work force utilisation for each regional FSU.