Shop 124: Hard at work in Dockyard


Ashley Evans, FMF CB ~

Over the past seven weeks, employees in Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Breton’s Shop 124 Work Centres have been active supporting the navy, working all but two business days.

This work has included supporting deployers HMC Ships Brandon, Regina, and Calgary; aiding preparations to move HMC Ships Ottawa and Vancouver over to Victoria Shipyard Ltd, and assistance to Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) with the transfer request of Ottawa’s C5 Sonar Dome on to Regina in Nanoose Bay.

The first two week’s work was spent on the storing requirements of the deployed ships, and the last minute preparations to get Brandon, Calgary, and Regina to sea. In addition to ensuring all expired life rafts on future deployers were certified and changed out as required, FMF CB staff assisted and supported brow installs and removals, oftentimes on short notice and after hours.

“Establishing and maintaining communication while working remotely is probably one of our biggest challenges, but we have a system in place that is working well to get the information to the people on the ground,” said Steve Ringma, Work Centre Manager, Shop 124.

Similar to other management teams, Ringma and fellow managers meet virtually with supervisors weekly to discuss work priorities, safety concerns, and to provide updates. Additional check-in calls are then done daily, as priorities are constantly changing.

Work on Ottawa and Vancouver was dynamic. Ottawa had major destoring requirements before being sent for its work period at the Esquimalt Graving Dock. Under tight timelines, with the assistance of TEME (Transportation, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering), crane crews helped ship staff remove approximately 250 pallets of stores and equipment.

Vancouver has seen a prioritizing of crane support related to their docking dependent rudder work and hull insert requirements, but also to meet contractual requirements under waterfront management within the Ship Repair Zone (SRZ).

“I have been very proud of Shop 124 supervisors’ and tradespersons’ response during this posture. It has been a steep learning curve adjusting to this way of planning work remotely but still being able to execute and adjust as required in the SRZ. We have been very busy for the last seven weeks and they have been going above and beyond to get the job done as efficiently as possible,” said Ringma.

During this time, Work Centres in Shop 124 assisted the dive unit with the transfer of Ottawa’s C5 Sonar Dome to Regina at Nanoose Harbour. This was a technical request that required input from a lot of stakeholders because the work had not been done before in Nanoose.

“The 124B WC crane crew was instrumental in the planning and execution of this evolution, allowing for a successful installation in very windy conditions,” said Ringma.

Since switching to Operation Laser on March 17, there have been between three to 10 Work Centre employees in dockyard almost every day. This includes a three-person 124B crane crew in almost daily; 124A inside riggers supporting the movement of equipment through the ships; and 124C/E sail and rigging loft staff managing fall arrest inspections and life raft change outs.

“Dockyard is definitely quiet, but you see all FMF employees in their areas working with a determination and purpose,” said Ringma. “I know they understand the importance of the work they are doing, especially with the deployers. Everyone has stepped up and I think they enjoy being part of the team required to support the navy during these times.”

To ensure proper safety measures are in place, supervisors have the correct products in place to clean lunchrooms and work areas (including cranes and mobiles) daily. Crews required to go in are reminded to practice social distancing with ship staff, other FMF employees, and contractors, and are all encouraged to discuss any issues or concerns.

By carefully planning the staging of critical crane-related work, Ringma says they have avoided the need to bring in more than one crane crew, which reduces the amount of people they are required to have in the ship repair zone. By scheduling and assigning the same team of workers for the full week, FMF CB has been able to avoid increased risk of day-to-day cross contamination with other teams.

“We have worked very hard with the Operations Coordination Center (OCC) to plan and schedule crane and rigging requirements so that we bring in the absolute minimum amount of support to do the work efficiently and safely,” said Ringma. “I think the OCC has done a good job on requests, allowing FMF to focus only on work that is essential.”


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