We’ve been keeping in touch with our 19 Australian Design Authority Engineers who bid “au revoir” to Australia and moved to France to work and learn side-by-side with their French colleagues. The engineers now reside in Cherbourg, in the north-west of France, where they are undertaking specific submarine design training to develop an intimate understanding of how to design and build our future submarines – the Attack Class.
This group of talented individuals are progressing the transfer of the detailed design from France to Australia, an important part of ensuring we can operate and sustain our submarines with sovereignty.
On their return to Australia, they will bring their submarine expertise with them and become the trainers of our future workforce. This expertise will create an active and living bank of knowledge for future generations of Australian submarine designers and builders.
Our first delegation of Australian engineers travelled to Naval Group in France in 2018, and our second delegation followed in 2019. While our third delegation won’t leave Australia until the COVID-19 situation eases and it is safe for them to do so, they are excited to kick off their submarine design training. Over the next few years, a total of one hundred engineers will relocate to Cherbourg as part of the design phase of the Future Submarine Program.
What are they working on?
Methods and Tools Engineer Georgia McLinden (front, third from left) says “I’m being trained to be the expert on the drawing software we will use to design and build the submarines. She says “at the moment I’m working closely with the hull and structures team and the arrangements team to get a grasp of how the individuals and the company go about the design process for a submarine.”
Acoustic Engineer Siobhan Giles (front, third from right) says “I ensure the overall design for the Attack Class submarine meets the acoustic signature targets. Each element of the deign must operate while emitting as little noise as possible. Along with the other acoustics engineers, I interface with the other engineering teams to ensure their designs meet acoustic requirements and everything interacts together, as quietly as possible.”
Tassie born Naval Architecht James Wilkes (back, far right) is responsible for ensuring that the overall design for the twelve Attack class submarines is consistent and balanced, and he has reveled in learning the complexities of the design.
How are they getting on during COVID-19?
France may be in a period of lock-down, but James says the Aussie engineers have been staying connected by checking in with each other, having a laugh sharing memes (let’s face it, who isn’t), and making sure the Australian banter continues albeit from a distance. James says his partner has even been doing French hip hop classes via Skype to keep active, and he says at 8pm each night, in a wonderful show of gratitude, they each head to their window to clap for all the health and essential service workers.
Click here to revisit our Future Adelaide piece Foreign Legion, where Georgia talks more about how South Australia is drawing on more than 100 years of submarine design and build expertise to usher in a new era of Australian submarine sovereignty.