Tetra Tech collaborated with the Bahraini Defence Force (BDF) to provide project management services to the Joint Force Command (JFC) and oversaw delivery in a culturally different working environment.
The UK Naval Support Facility (UKNSF) is the first British Navy facility built east of the Suez Canal in over 50 years, supporting Royal Navy operations in the Gulf, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean. At the project’s inception, the British military needed a base that would provide the dedicated facilities to increase its presence in the Middle East.
But equally important was improving conditions for serving personnel. Although some living accommodation was previously procured via the local housing market, the only real option for many personnel was living on ships, where conditions typically range from cramped and uncomfortable to stifling hot and far from ideal for morale.
Our project sought to rectify that with personal living facilities that ease security concerns, improve morale, and reduce operational costs.
Unlike standard design and build projects, the client managed the timescale and budget. Finding ourselves in a culturally different working environment, we grappled with the challenge of ensuring compliance with not just UK and Ministry of Defence standards and regulations, but also local business practices.
This required an entirely different approach to stakeholder engagement, problem solving, conflict management, and project control. Addressing discrepancies could only be achieved through total transparency and consistency in our communications to manage expectations.
Our approach to risk mitigation proved key to delivery and information management. We kept a robust audit trail and developed our own change control techniques, including a tracker of all changes to be reported back to JFC. Through our construction expertise, we identified critical issues early, advising the client team and our hosts accordingly to plan for delays caused by inclement weather.
Some UK compliance measures were easily resolved, like installing UK Building Regulations handrails, while others proved complex, e.g. fire stopping requirements. Other unforeseen supply chain challenges reared their head: the specification of material, for example, needed to be exact to meet UK standards, and some could only be procured from the UK, affecting delivery times and requiring reprogramming of planned work.
By persistently engaging with the BDF, contractors, and JFC, we overcame anticipated challenges, even adopting an informal mentoring approach to explain the importance of certain standards and regulations. Our positive working relationship with the BDF meant we made judgments as to when we could reasonably ask them to make allowances and where it would be unreasonable.
Results and Benefits
The new facilities at the UKNSF have ultimately helped the Royal Navy improve operational capability, with three large quayside hangars granting ships immediate access to refuelling and maintenance.
Through a massive suite of improvements to welfare facilities for dining, relaxing, and social interaction, the facility also plays a critical role in increasing Royal Navy staff retention.
Able to accommodate 550 persons, including 200 full-time staff, plus visiting forces, the facility’s impact can be seen by occupants who have responded positively to the presence of air-conditioned rooms, internet, TV, sport, gyms, coffee shops, a cinema, and game rooms.
A hugely beneficial outcome is a core team of Tetra Tech colleagues now able to apply best practices to other projects, having absorbed a deeper understanding of working overseas and interfacing with different practices and cultures.