Sonar Engineer, Ian
What does your role entail?
As a trained Sonar Systems engineer, my role as a Naval Applicator within this specialism is to ensure that Royal Navy ships and submarines receive the full support required, including sourcing contractor support, advice and any other documentation required to ensure capability is achieved at all times. Equipment varies from minor sonars to mainframe sonars on all classes for the Royal Navy.
Why did you choose a career as a Sonar/Underwater Systems Engineer? Where did you begin?
I joined the Royal Navy in 1980 as a mechanic on ships, and with career progression and training I became a Sonar Maintainer for submarines in 1991. As a submariner, the importance of sonar – ‘the ears’ of a submarine – meant an exciting opportunity to maintain and repair the latest technology at the time, working on the most complex and most varied of equipment, in a time-sensitive environment.
What difference does your role make?
I offer a high level of support to the Fleet, advising on the best methods to carry out repairs and updating changes required for maintenance, working with colleagues of all grades – from junior engineers up to Navy Command level. My Civil Service colleagues provide support to achieve goals, and I offer them support on the best methods to ensure equipment is safe to operate and maintain. Not only does my role impact on the Underwater and Electronic Warfare (UEW) project team, but also on outside agencies, including the Submarine Delivery Agency (SDA), Navy Command and Flotillas.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?
My daily work is often varied, one minute helping to support a mine hunter and the next minute supporting a Vanguard Class submarine. Every day is a learning day and while it can present challenges at times, it is also a fulfilling role and I feel like I have contributed to help the Sensors Team run efficiently.
What are your career aspirations? And how does DE&S support you?
Since joining DE&S, I have undertaken many training courses. Although as a Service Man I understand the majority of the issues faced within the MOD, the training has benefitted me too. Full support and time are always given to everyone if you wish to progress, including mentoring.
Why DE&S? What makes it a great place to work?
For me, taking on this role at DE&S was to give the Royal Navy the full support they require to ensure optimum advice and information when they require it. The ability to talk about any issues to any level of personnel within our Abbey Wood Head Office (in Bristol) is one of the best things; advice is everywhere, and everyone is always able to answer or point you in the right direction. Additionally, visits to ships and submarines are helpful and are always encouraged to show not only how the equipment works but how it is fitted.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in your field at DE&S?
An engineering background would of course be beneficial, however at DE&S people are also able to transfer across from other business areas. If you have recently studied science or engineering at school, this could be a route to becoming an engineering graduate in DE&S. There is a variety of ways to join the Engineering function, and once here there are fantastic training opportunities to expand your knowledge and progress. If this is something you are passionate about, there will be a route for you – give it a go!