Giving sailors the power to innovate

Garden Island innovation

16 Feb


Nestled in an unassuming building within the Garden Island Defence Precinct is the Fleet Base East Centre for Innovation – a splash of colour alongside the grey of Navy’s ships.  

Decorated with a kraken motif, the centre consists of just three rooms – an open-plan meeting room, a computer lab and a workshop.

Although it’s only a small space, Directorate of Navy Continuous Innovation Project Manager Commander (CMDR) Steve Thompson said Fleet Base East’s officers and sailors had made good use of the facilities.

“When we opened up, all of a sudden young sailors had a place they could come with their ideas or problems, and find a solution in an environment with no boundaries on innovation,” CMDR Thompson said.

“Our job at the centre is to grab those people and their ideas, and take them as far as they can go.

“It’s about helping those sailors who have an idea and taking it through to fruition, whether that means it’s something they can fix immediately on their ship or something which involves more than one ship.”

While CMDR Thompson is used to dealing with strategic-level problems, Centre for Innovation Manager Don Moloney, who helped create the centre, said its main aim was to help individuals fix problems – big or small.

“One person – after learning computer-aided design and holding the physical representation of an idea in their hand – told me it felt like they had a new superpower,” Mr Moloney said.

“It really stuck in my head – the person was so excited, but they’d also cleared the fuzz between an idea in their head and having a physical, functional prototype.”

The centre’s use of 3D printing keeps going.

“At the end of the day, the centre and the mindset it brings is something that will change everything– from attitude to policy, top to bottom.”