A state-of-the-art training facility – the first of its kind for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) – has been officially opened at the A&P Group’s, Falmouth yard.
The training room, which simulates the computerised working system of the RFA’s Bay-class ships, is part of the successful Cluster programme between A&P Group and the MoD.
It will be used to train RFA staff in trials, tests and fault-finding – without the risk of damage on board a ship.
Commodore David Preston, the RFA’s Head of Afloat Support, unveiled a commemorative plaque to declare the facility officially open on Friday.
He said: “This will bring great efficiencies in the way we do our training and the ships’ companies will derive an awful lot of benefit from it. The possibilities are endless.
“Basing the training room at A&P’s Falmouth yard, where the ships and our people are located, really builds on the whole Cluster philosophy.”
Tom Simpson, Managing Director of Imtech Marine and Offshore Ltd, which built the system, said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to follow this project from its inception and this facility is the natural progression in Imtech’s commitment to the through life support of the vessels. I’m delighted to see it operational today.
“It’s a true representation of the ships’ computerised systems – you can’t imagine the benefits for a ships’ crew.”
The primary purpose of the system will be to allow for software changes to the ships, and can simulate systems such as temperature sensors, valve controls and even CCTV.
Kevin Murray, Cluster Support Team Leader for the MoD, said: “This innovative project demonstrates the long term strategic thinking that the MOD and A&P Group partnership has developed. The facility will allow us to develop and maintain the ship’s capability for many years to come whilst managing the obsolescence issues that surround any modern computer based system.”
Gerald Pitts, A&P’s Cluster Programme Director, said: “This once again highlights the excellent value for money the Cluster programme provides and we are delighted to offer this new training facility at A&P Falmouth.”
A&P Group has a contract with the MoD to provide upkeep support to five of the latest RFA vessels. The partnership has led to a more economical approach to ship repair and maintenance throughout the RFA flotilla. Last year A&P Group was praised in Parliament for the “major part” it is playing in reducing MoD spending.
The new approach is estimated to deliver more than £330m in cost savings to the MoD over 30 years on the previous arrangements, which saw individual contracts competed for as and when they were required.