A day in the life of...
Back to Crew page next Day in life



Association Members...

Most of us are now doing work totally removed from our jobs on board the Ambers'.

Can I request that you knock up a small dit entitled……
"A day in the life of……….."

We are interested…….please e-mail the webmaster

Ray Taylor


Willie (Jock) Beresford (CPO 1979-1982)

in response to the request for "A Day in The Life", I thought that the other Ambusmen might like to read of my tough life here in sunny WA!

The sun rises here about 05.10 and is incredibly bright. Currently in our summer here in Perth it can be 22c (71F) overnight and when the sun comes up the temperature starts to climb to the high 30's. Anyhow, I work "flex" routine as a technical officer in the Directorate of Submarine Sustainment (DSMS), for the Department of Defence at HMAS STIRLING, Garden Island WA and have a 54k (32Miles) drive to work from the Perth suburb of Thornlie. So, I drag myself out of bed at 0540 and aim to be on the road at 0600. I never have any trouble getting motivated for the drive as I have a Honda ST1100 and love the challenge of spotting Multanova Speed Cameras and hand held speed guns on the trip. (Last week I collected my second in a lifetime ticket from the motorcycle cop I have had eye contact with over a long period and copped it sweet...$100!). My alternative is an old Saab 900 which gets most use in the winter in the heavy rains we get here.

Arriving at the control point for entry to the causeway onto the island, I have to remove my crash helmet completely and hold up my phot id before staying at 80kph on the 5k causeway and bridge to the island. The next challenge is to guess if someone has drawn the key to our offices. If I get off the bike and go in for the key, it's drawn already, if I don't, I have to go back and get it!
Our offices are upstairs in the Maritime HQ building and my next task is to put the filtered coffee machine on for that first brew. I then unlock the key cupboard and daw the keys to our cabinet. We have an open plan office and each "cell" has 4 workstations and a cabinet for restricted and commercial in confidence documents to assist the "clear desk" policy. My cell is the Contract Cell and we manage 8 In Service Support (ISS) Contracts for the Platform and Combat equipments on the Collins class submarines. I log on to my computer and check my emails as we now use email as official correspondence. The eastern states are 3 hours ahead of us so there is generally quite a few messages from our Generation division in Canberra or contractors in Sydney.

I am the Contract Manager for the Thales In Service Support (ISS) Contract for the SCYLLA Sonar suite, Communications Mast and Towed Array. My main focus is ensuring Contractor performance, authorising/overseeing the tasking process used by our stakeholders, liaising with the "Domain" users on System Engineering taskings and reports and validating the routine quarterly payments. Currently I have the same role for the British Aerospace Systems ISS Contract for the support of the Periscopes but it is a smaller contract with plans to develop it further. The office is filling up now as people arrive between 7 and 8 am and we have about 40 on our floor. If the telephone rings it is generally a query on a support issue or the status of concession or trial documentation. HMAS RANKIN the last of the Collins to be delivered is currently in AMP and getting every extra we can muster for her busy programme including RIMPAC 2004, where we expect her to perform well. CPO Rod Charles (ex RN) is currently DWEEO in RANKIN and although he is a Rangers supporter we have a good working relationship developed during his 2 year stint in our office when he was the BAE Systems contract manager. (Yes I support Celtic!)

At 9am on a Tuesday we have our weekly cell meeting and receive our ever changing policy directives on what we need to add or remove from our contracts and told how our last weeks priorities have been replaced by new ones. The sound of a car horn about 0940 informs us that the "Chuck Truck" is outside the building for those who want pies, sandwiches, milk etc. Aussies love their pies and tomato sauce, even in 38c which blasts you as you leave the air-conditioned office to walk the few metres to the food wagon. The meeting over, I am now into the mass of paperwork on the contract change proposal to add fully funded repairs to my Thales Contract. Having already proved the benefits by a 2 stage 12 month trial, we have received approval to proceed, identified and made the funding available and now have to ensure that the Detailed Service Description clearly specifies the deliverables.

I have a full in tray and work on it until 1200 when I get changed and go to the Gym. I have several routine workouts but generally jog the 1k to the gym as a warm-up, run 3 - 5 km on the treadmill and then have a set of exercises on the weights before warming down by walking back to the office. That takes me an hour including the shower back at the office. ( Well maybe a bit longer but I am a Public Servant!) To be allowed to join in any organised sport on the island all personnel, civilians like myself included, must be in date for the fitness test. For 53 year olds like me it can be a real test to run 2.4k in 17mins, do 10 pushup and 6 situps! As an ex Devonport Field Gunner and rugby and soccer player I don't have too much trouble, but only because I still keep fit. I aim to match the fitness requirements of those in the 35 year old range and usually do the run in 12 mins and do the 25 pushups and situps annually in July when it isn't so warm.

As the lunch break is over, I eat a sandwich in front of my computer read emails and review messages on my voicemail from the eastern states guys now on their way home. I have to fill out a travel req for my trip to Sydney next month, obtain the several signatures for approval and then fax it to our travel rep in the Adelaide offices. They are only 2.5 hours ahead so I can manage that before they go home. Several of the men in the Thales field service team need their passes renewed and as we are waiting the arrival of our new security officer I have to fax a request to the pass office with the necessary details, before they can go and renew their passes. I regularly log onto the signal distribution system and review the signals on Urdefs, (Aus equivalent of Opdefs) particularly on sonar but also on any which might impact on any of our Contractors. Next to my desk is the Ship Information Management System (SIMS) terminal and I also regularly log on to check the Tasking Register in case we are action or info addressee on any issues.

Most of the office pack up at 1600 and there is a traffic jam to get off the island, so I finish at 1610 which matches my flex routine of a 9 day fortnight and gives me a clear run off the island. Traffic is a lot heavier on the way home and I have the choice of wearing my motorbike jacket and sweating at traffic lights or risking it in my t-shirt. As I head inland on the trip it gets warmer and I normally get changed and jump into our pool as soon as I get home around 1700. My wife Janice is manager of a retail store and I have time to cool down and knock up a meal before she gets in around 1800. Walk the dog, play around with the Ford Escort I have to repair in the garage and shout at our 2 remaining schoolchildren is in the agenda for the rest of the evening before waking up tomorrow and doing it all again! Oh yes I forgot to mention the couple of cool beers from the beer fridge!

It's a tough life but someone has to do it!

Willie (Jock) Beresford

26 Jan 04 (Australia Day)

www.ambuscade.org.uk top of page