|HMAS Perth is moved back to the ship lift during her undocking at Henderson, Western Australia, following the completion of the docking phase of Intermediate Maintenance Availability 06.|
February 17, 2016 - Late in 2015 the ship's company of HMAS Perth faced a significant catering challenge while docked at the Henderson Common User Facility, near Rockingham Western Australia.
The ship’s galley was out of commission for the docking period, and with 180 personnel working 40 kilometres away from their usual home of Fleet Base West, on Garden Island, the job of feeding the masses seemed to have no easy solution.
Maritime Logistics Officer, Commander Tony Ashley, made some initial inquiries and discovered that previously docked ships had tried a number of approaches and all had considerable down-sides.
Transporting pre-made meals from the HMAS Stirling Main Galley meant wasting valuable man-hours by removing the Maritime Logistics-Chef sailors from the rest of the ship’s company and also the food quality would suffer.
“The other option would have been to utilise a local catering firm however the costs were significant and the ship’s chefs would have been left with not much to do," Commander Ashley said.
The Deputy Maritime Logistics Officer, Lieutenant Commander Pete Chapman, came up with an alternative, hiring a mobile galley, cool room and store room; complete with the requisite gas, water, and sullage connections, meaning that the chefs could be employed and integrated with the rest of ship’s company.
In terms of cost, the analysis he presented to the ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Ivan Ingham, showed that the usual Navy rations budget could be used to deliver continued employment to the ship’s chefs, high-quality meals produced in the same location as ship’s company, and a significant saving on the cost of hiring a local caterer.
Lieutenant Commander Chapman’s convincing business case was forwarded to Commander Australian Surface Force and the Anzac Systems Project Office citing Chief of Navy’s Innovation Challenge to find new and creative solutions to problems.
As a result the necessary funding approvals and contracting arrangements were made, and the mobile facilities were moved into the dockyard.
The chefs went to work – and as Able Seaman Maritime Logistics-Chef Benjamin Lindsay said, there was an added benefit.
“We could be much more flexible with managing the constantly changing numbers of meals required, which meant we kept our wastage and costs down even further," he said.
In the end, the mobile galley turned out to be an overwhelming success in keeping Perth's ship’s company as a cohesive team during the docking period whilst finding a very cost effective solution to provide good quality delicious meals.
Captain Ingham said it was a brilliant idea.
"It was better for Navy, better for Perth, better for the galley team, all whilst making a saving for Defence," he said.
“This type of initiative is a good example of what can be achieved if you adopt a determined approach to identify and implement innovative solutions!"