Catching up with Gordy Smart: helping to find efficiencies and drive improvements in the submarine program

April 16, 2024

What is your role at Seaspan Victoria Shipyards?

My role has evolved significantly with the Submarine Program over the years. Presently, I am the Production Supervisor in zone support for the Victoria In-Service Support Contract (VISSC).  I have also been involved with supporting the set-up of numerous configurations of the offices and supporting buildings within the submarine compound while, and until the VISSC office building was constructed. Since then, I have assisted with the coordination and set-up of the VISSC compound, which has seen several additional reconfigurations, to the present arrangement which meets the requirements of the Lean Initiative that Seaspan Victoria Shipyards has been working on with Babcock and Canada.

What does your average day look like?

An average day consists of organizing the priorities that have been scheduled to take place that day and planning for any upcoming events. This will often involve collaboration with our safety team, contractors and our trades and labour workforce. There is a myriad of requests that come in daily, and I do my best to ensure that each issue is actioned as quickly and as effectively as possible. I communicate daily with various internal groups to plan for future requirements as this is essential for maintaining schedules and staying within budget. Depending on the requests and issues that arise, this guarantees that no two days will ever be the same, and that level of variety is one of the best parts of my role.

I am actively involved with almost every element that occurs throughout the submarine compound, participating in the troubleshooting of issues as they arise and finding solutions to best move forward. Currently, I am participating with several significant upgrades that will present our team with greater efficiencies – e.g., assisting with the installation of two new electric compressors for supply air to the hangar, and the installation of a modular washroom facility directly accessed from inside the Purpose Built Repair Facility. My role also involves communicating with the trades and contractors to accomplish whatever may be required to maintain a project on schedule. I also remain an active member in both the Victoria Shipyards Waste Management Committee and Energy Conservation Committees.

What do you like most about your position?

I cannot say that I’ve ever had a bad day during my almost 30 years as part of the Seaspan team. I enjoy the ‘hands on’ approach of being able to participate in whatever way possible to assist the VISSC team with achieving positive results. I look forward to coming to work every day and interacting with the various trades and management teams within a large and diverse workforce.

What are some challenges you face while working?

Challenges are varying and unique and though some can be anticipated, there is a good portion that surface with no warning as circumstances are subject to frequent change, occasionally several times in one day. These can sometimes be a bit daunting, but l consider dealing with them as a natural part of my job. Having to adapt and reorganize on the fly to best suit the project is continually ongoing but provides satisfaction as each issue is resolved.

Can you give some advice for someone that’s looking for a similar career path?

My advice from personal experience is to maintain a positive attitude, be flexible to adjust to changes, participate in every training and opportunity that may present itself to bolster your portfolio, and be satisfied with the effort you put forward at the end of each day. Someone will take notice.