My project management philosophy:

1.  All successful projects are the result of good teamwork.
2.  If you haven’t got a plan you can’t change it.
3.  ‘Killer grams’

Ref 1:
All links in the chain have to be strong – one weak link and it all falls apart. This runs right through from the draughtsman to the owner. It cannot be overstated how important it is to have an owner or owner’s representative, who comprehends what he or she has actually started. If the person in charge does not understand it makes every stage one which has to be explained and justified before it can proceed. This is a protracted process and ruins continuity.

Ref 2:
If you don’t have a plan, you have no control because you don’t know who is doing what when. You don’t have to be the controller of the plan yourself, but somebody has to be. This, of course, is project management. Once you have a plan it becomes obvious at some stage – often towards the beginning – that parts of it are not going to work in the originally expected fashion. The plan may then be updated to accommodate these changes. Things remain under control. No plan, no control; the time and cost goes sky high and disasters happen because essential things get forgotten.

Ref 3:
This sign – in large letters - was on the design office wall in one of the companies I worked for before setting up on my own. It always astonishes me how little emphasis is given to the weight of high speed craft – often by those who work within the industry. Nobody expects an aeroplane to take to the skies if it is overweight; possibly this is because our baggage is always weighed before taking a flight. The same principle applies to fast planing craft; too heavy and they won’t get up and plane on the water surface, or will struggle to do so. The vertical rise of a planing craft is much less than for an aircraft (and there is less distance to fall), but planing is different from just floating just as flying is different from standing on the runway. Weight is the by far the largest factor in planing boat performance and too much weight in the wrong place is the biggest cause of design disasters.

Combat Support Boat

Air transport for combat support boat

The RTK Logistics Support Boat as supplied to the British Army was a good project. RTK has since been bought by VT-Halmatic who continue to build these ‘waterborne 4 x 4s’. The specification was to replace the then existing LSBs which by that stage were being asked to do more than they were originally designed for. I worked with RTK’s design office. I designed the hull against the specified size limitations, performance, load carrying and other duties. RTK supplied the weight and centre of gravity (CG) estimates and stated the preferred power and drive units and designed the top part of the craft. Shallow water operation had already dictated waterjets. Between us we worked on the structure and answered the vast number of queries and requirements that always stem from a government job – I concentrated on flooding, swamping, stability and performance issues while RTK sorted out the myriad other aspects - fit out, equipment, launch and retrieval issues, etc.

RTK had produced a test version of one of their existing hulls and I helped with modifications to try to get the required performance. We didn’t achieve all that was needed but based on those results I calculated that we could get the required performance with the new hull we were intending to produce. A number of different configurations were looked at along with their their pros and cons, before settling on the final shape. We did achieve the performance required and the craft has turned out to be a success. I wouldn’t have got my bit right if RTK hadn’t done their job properly and also supplied me with good information. A nice project with a good result for a demanding client.

An interesting aside; three of these hulls looking suitably used and ‘distressed’ appeared in the film ‘Sahara’ in the hands of the bad guys. At one stage one craft had to run out of control and fly (a long way) up the bank. After filming a tow line was attached to one of the other LSBs which then pulled it back into the water!



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