Always striving to do better

Not happy with the status quo, Petty Officer Nathan Spilling’s drive to do better was infectious.

CAPTION: Petty Officer Nathan Spilling has received a Conspicuous Service Medal as part of the King’s Birthday Honours List. Story by Corporal Jacob Joseph. Photo by Leading Seaman Tom Gibson.

The then senior maintainer was instrumental in bringing a culture of initiative to his communications workshop, resulting in a significant increase in tasks completed per maintenance period.

His work was recognised this month, receiving a Conspicuous Service Medal for his achievements while posted to Fleet Support Unit (FSU) – South East.

“We kept pushing to do more and showing that we wanted to do more,” Petty Officer Spilling said.

“We instilled that with the able seaman, and it led to a massive uptick in what we could and wanted to do.”

Over the four years Petty Officer Spilling was posted to FSU, his team built a relationship with Defence contractors who owned the maintenance capability and gradually took over tasks.

By the time he left, sailors went from completing about five to 150 tasks per maintenance period.

Not only did this save money, but it also established trust with companies like Raytheon and showed Navy personnel had the expertise and professionalism to maintain Hobart-class destroyers.

“Everything else we’d always done, and we were happy with it, but then it was about taking on more,” Petty Officer Spilling said.

“Based off the quality of our work and meeting deadlines, we were able to build those relationships and rapidly increase the number of tasks completed.”

One of the ways Petty Officer Spilling increased output was by standardising working at heights safety training across FSU – South East.

Other workshops turned down maintenance jobs, like working on communications antennas, before training was revamped.

He was honoured to receive the King’s Birthday award and said it was unexpected.

“It sounds like a cliché, but honestly, Defence is a team,” Petty Officer Spilling said.

“I had a supervisor who trusted me to try new things and a good team I didn’t have to micromanage.

“Everything worked and it allowed me to investigate and strive to do better.”


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