[Job portrait] “Organisation, patience and persistence are the key qualities in order to keep pushing onwards”

18 January 2021 Human ressources Story

Mathilde Alcover, Hull Work Package Manager (WPM), works on the RMV (mid-life refit) renovation program of the La Fayette-class frigates. Launched last October on the Naval Group site of Toulon, the project concerns three French navy frigates and includes considerable modernisation operations that must be carried out in a very short space of time. “The positive attitude that predominates in our team helps me cope with the challenges of my position,” explains Mathilde.

Work Package Manager: a major role

“For each program, the works are broken down by specialisation for each of which the WPMs are responsible for monitoring the worksite, the budget and the schedule. For this program, we are a team of 6 monitoring the works carried out on the ship’s structure (metal and composite parts) and its painting. These works are important as they give a second life to the ship by updating its systems, its equipment and its weapons. Notably, a new sonar will be integrated into the frigates and two Sadral missile launchers will replace their Crotale missile system.”

Organisation, patience and persistence

“The challenge of this project is to carry out these immense operations simultaneously and in a short lead time: the Courbet must be refloated in March and our activities need to be carried out in the dock. On the shipyard there is a high level of co-activity, bringing with it heavy pressure. My role is to quickly respond to the teams’ numerous solicitations and to provide a solution to configuration issues - there is sometimes divergence between forecasts and reality, and these contingencies are a common occurrence for the Services teams. I am therefore highly present on board, sometimes in very tight spaces or in contact position requiring extreme vigilance in terms of SST (welding and painting stations). Organisation, patience and persistence are the key qualities in order to keep work moving onwards.”

A team operation...

“Our specialisation has the particularity of working with all other trades: electricity, fluids, combat system, logistics, Health and Safety at Work and Environment (H&SW/E).
To cope with the peak workloads caused by this renovation and modernisation project, employees from other hull departments have come to help us out: the Lorient team brings us their new build skills for the integration of the sonar unit that they manufactured, and Angoulême-Ruelle participate in work to strengthen the ship’s structure. Employees from the site of Brest also helped us with component works completed in the workshop.
The strong team spirit and mutual support between the WPMs, job preparation technicians and supervisors also help us cope with the pressure.”

...that is highly technical

“My past experience as a Hull WPM on the technical stop for the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, and during the modernisation of the Argentinian patrol vessel A.R.A. Bouchard have prepared me for this project. The technical skills that I have acquired over almost seven years were put to use right from the integration studies phase that preceded it.
It was necessary to make a 6 x 4.5 metre opening in the hull in order to integrate the mini-block containing the new sonar into the Courbet. This is an integral part of the hull so meant that the hull then needed to be reinforced. It was then adjusted, down to the nearest centimetre!
For these highly delicate operations, our welders tested exoskeletons and welding robots in order to improve their comfort and the quality of their work.”