[Trade portrait] Jean-Nicolas, Production Executive Engineer for Infrastructures in Toulon


21 October 2021 Human ressources Fleet services Story

After having trained as an engineer, Jean-Nicolas currently holds a position which is little-known within Naval Group’s Services division: he is a Production Executive Engineer (PExE), in charge of the operation and maintenance of port, nuclear and land-based support installations at the naval base in Toulon. He tells us all about his job ....

“Naval Group provides excellent in-house opportunities for mobility. My first job was in the maintenance and operation of energy networks on the naval base in Toulon. I went on to work in logistics for ships in in-service-support (ISS), then moved to a position as Infrastructures department manager.

I then felt like a change, so I worked as PExE on the technical stop for the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, a role which led me to passing a vocational certificate as Atomic technician at the School of military applications of Atomic energy in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, before taking up my current position”. This unusual career path covering twenty years’ experience began in Toulon.

He is now responsible for ensuring the availability and operational status of the infrastructures necessary to bring an attack submarine (such as SNA Rubis and Suffren) into dock for maintenance. The priority is getting the ship hooked up to the shore-based support installations which can then take over the submarine’s functions: 40 sub-systems (including the 8 main ones: civil engineering, mechanics, electricity, fluids, maintaining the water level, etc.), as well as making sure that the specialists (with mechanics, divers, mooring assistants amongst others) and associated handling means are ready for the start of work.

Jean-Nicolas is responsible for overall organisation on a daily basis: managing and coordinating all activities, guaranteeing respect of the schedule as well as safety of the work which he is responsible for, and all this in close cooperation with the customer and representatives of the various State authorities. A role which requires “being alongside teams in the field, talking with them and helping them out when things are wrong. I must also be one step ahead in order to deal with problems as quickly as possible, which means having the level the perspective necessary as well as a critical viewpoint. Falling into a routine is dangerous”. And routine is something Jean-Nicolas wants to avoid at all costs, so that the weeks never look the same.

And the PExE has more than enough to keep himself occupied with the colossal project to refit the 5 quays and 3 docks in the Missiessy area of the shipyard! “The repository of standards that covers this area and its installations dedicated to ISS, demands from teams a complete shift of paradigm. 

Refitting work on dock 1 has required developments in our skills set, one that must expand on a permanent basis. It is very exciting to support teams in their training, to see each person improve their skills on a daily basis, as well as adopt and operate the new equipment that will be used over the coming fifty years. We had a milestone to be reached and we’ve made it!”  But the challenge doesn’t end there. This project also involves a strict management of risks around the docks - which are still in use - and the need for continuous adaptation to complex situations, with client satisfaction always in mind!