Research commissioned by Babcock, the Devonport Naval Base Commander (NBC(D)), and Commodore of the Devonport Flotilla (ComDevFlot) to capture feedback from ship's staff from various naval vessels on their views on and experience of Devonport, has been studied and is being acted on, under a new 'Devonport Experience' joint initiative.
The independent survey was carried out among over 100 ship's staff from 11 different ships and submarines, to identify what is working well, and where there is scope for improvement in the facilities and services provided to the Fleet, from an end-user perspective. The survey covered a whole spectrum of support, from engineering activities to accommodation facilities, shore supply connections to sports pitches, vessel movements to out-of-hours support.
The initiative was implemented in recognition of the fact that while performance against Key Performance Indicators was strong under the WSMI contract between Babcock and the MoD at Devonport, the experience of 'operational users' could be improved in some areas.
A number of strengths were identified from the research, including the quality of the engineering support provided, but some concerns and frustrations were also expressed, which are now being addressed to improve the support facilities for naval personnel at Devonport. The survey was undertaken in 2009, and following analysis of the findings some immediate changes have already been seen in response, including new signage, bus shelters, smoking shelters, bike racks and a mobile catering van. Other actions will take longer to implement, but activity is underway to put these in place. Examples include improvements to alongside connectivity arrangements (including email services), and development of streamlined points of contact for support services. Moves to improve the operation and interaction between the various organisations on site to deliver these changes, including joint working groups, have also been implemented.
The aim is to create a Devonport Experience that will enable crews to feel that Devonport is part of their team, home and away; where they feel valued; are kept informed; and can get on with their job without delays; and ultimately that, at Devonport, what really matters to people in the Royal Navy is understood.
In a launch event on HMS Cumberland last month the six members of the Devonport community - the Naval Base Commander, Babcock, Commodore Devonport Flotilla, Flag Officer Sea Training, Interserve, and Serco - signed a document, demonstrating their commitment to the Devonport Experience initiative. Naval Base Commander Cdre Steve Dearden and Babcock Naval Bases Managing Director Phil Jones outlined the initiative, the findings of the research and the steps now being taken as a result, and undertook to keep listening.
Cdre Steve Dearden said: "We've all taken the time to really listen to our operational users and to understand better how they feel about the experience they get in Devonport. We've taken on board what they've told us and have already introduced a lot of 'quick hits' making life in Devonport better. Most importantly, we've put mechanisms in place to ensure we keep listening to our Naval personnel, and keep responding, to ensure the 'Devonport Experience' is really good news."
Phil Jones commented: "This month we have started a new process of regularly capturing our performance against the identified aims, and a team will visit at least two platforms each month to capture views from a representative sample of the crew. The feedback will be reviewed and acted upon. But it's also a two-way process. There are complex customer/supplier relationships within HMNB Devonport, and we also need crews to recognise the support teams' responsibilities and help with aspects such as divers tagouts, RadHaz routines and waste sorting disciplines. Overall, we want to make the Devonport Experience as good as it can be, for all involved."
Crew members from HMS Torbay and HMS Cornwall have been among the first to be asked for feedback since the launch of the new Devonport Experience initiative.