Extreme engineering – Royal Navy

Engineering in the Royal Navy is a hands-on role for individuals who enjoy a challenge. A tiny handful take this to extremes, working in difficult and even dangerous environments.

Lieutenant Commander Victoria Percival MBE, 35, is the marine engineering officer on HMS Defender, one of the Royal Navy’s six state-of-the-art type 45 air defence destroyers – which frequently takes her thousands of miles away from base-port into some of the harshest operating areas in the world.

“Out in the Persian Gulf, you have to cope with 50 degree centigrade temperatures,” she says. “This, and the sand, which gets everywhere, and 35-degree sea water, may not be ideal for the machinery you’re operating. Then, in the Baltic, it’s ten below. You have to be prepared for these extremes.

“At all times we’re required to be ready to deal immediately with any real incident be it machinery failure causing a loss of power to the ship or a fire or flood that could in turn risk the lives of our team. “

“At all times we’re required to be ready to deal immediately with any real incident be it machinery failure causing a loss of power to the ship or a fire or flood that could in turn risk the lives of our team. “

Leading a department of some 45 marine engineers, Percival’s other main concern is staff health and morale.

“I have been at sea in some pretty awful conditions. Most of our ships are built to cope with severe sea states but as head of department I have to be very tuned into the effects our operating environment has on the team and our equipment.”

Percival joined the Navy as an officer trainee after taking a MEng in mechanical engineering at the University of Bath.

She says she loves the travel – an earlier eight-month deployment took her through Europe, into the Middle East and out into the South Pacific on a humanitarian mission – and says the most exacting aspect of the work is precisely what makes it so exciting.

“When a vessel leaves its berth in port, everything depends on the crew’s ability to work without any outside support. The ability to operate independently and rely on the skill set of our team is fundamental to what we do.

“Everyone on board has a role to play and we all need to deliver if the ship is going to succeed on its tasking. That’s a big responsibility on every sailor’s shoulders but it generates a really rewarding team ethos.

“I’m really proud to have reached the pinnacle of the first stage of my career – I am doing exactly what I’ve been training to do since joining the Navy. I’ve never had any regrets and would never want to swap what I do for a ‘normal’ job.”

Lt Commander Victoria Percival

Lieutenant Commander Victoria Percival [CORR], 33, is the marine engineering officer on HMS Defender, one of the Royal Navy’s six state-of-the-art type 45 air defence destroyers – which frequently takes her thousands of miles away from base-port into some of the harshest operating areas in the world.
Lt Commander Victoria Percival

Latest posts by Lt Commander Victoria Percival (see all)

Share:  

More in this category

Leave a Reply

  Subscribe  
Notify of