• Babcock NZ split its work teams into red and green groups.
    Babcock NZ split its work teams into red and green groups. NZDF

Babcock NZ has been named the winner of the Strategic Partnership Award in the Minister of Defence Awards of Excellence to Industry for efforts to support the NZ Defence Force throughout the pandemic response.

Babcock NZ delivers the engineering support and capability sustainment for the Royal NZ Navy’s (RNZN) fleet of ships through asset management, maintenance, repair, overhaul, design development and project management.

Prior to the nationwide lockdowns being announced, Babcock NZ worked to develop a business continuity plan together with Defence Logistics Command (Maritime), introducing a system to split the entire Navy dockyard in half; enhancing the safety of operations for people working on-site and enabling essential ongoing vessel maintenance and service to take place during the pandemic.

Managing Director Babcock NZ Chris Saxby said the focus was on safely dovetailing essential maintenance and repair with the operational requirements for the fleet.

“The biggest challenge was ensuring that we didn't get community transmission in the dockyard as this would affect not only our dockyard workforce, but also the sailors who work here on board the Navy’s ships. Splitting our work teams into primarily red and green groups, with separate shifts and allocated workshop areas servicing specific ships reduced the risk of potential cross-team transmission," Saxby said.

Logistics Commander Maritime, RNZN Captain Mark Worsfold said Babcock ‘came through with flying colours’ with a business continuity plan that maintained the fleet’s capability regardless of the lockdown situation.

“Not only did we have to protect our sailors, but we had to protect the continuity of capability because our ships can be called upon to do anything at any time,” he said.

“The Babcock relationship with the NZ Defence Force is very forward-leaning, they were with us all the way. Together, throughout our response to the pandemic, we didn't compromise the safety of our people or our ability to support the Navy."

Babcock NZ was among eight businesses recognised by the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Kevin Short, and the Secretary of Defence, Andrew Bridgman, in a joint statement.

An awards event planned for March to announce and celebrate the winners was cancelled due to COVID-19. In its place, Defence officials will meet the winners in a series of bespoke events.

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