300 years of technological front edge

The history tells that the Swedish king, Karl XI, in 1679 needed a more strategic location for the royal navy base. He stood with the map over Sweden and pointed at the archipelago in south east corner. Later, the location became what we know as the city Karlskrona, the naval base and the shipyard. This is where we build the next generation submarine, the A26.

When entering through the stonewall, the first thing that strikes the eyes is old derrick and the five finger docks, constructed in the eighteenth century to be able to build and maintain surface ships with the latest technology at a fast pace. Today, these docks are still used to maintain and upgrade existing ships. Next to the docks are new workshops built to provide capacities and capabilities for the future projects. The goal is still the same as it was 300 years ago; to build ships with the latest technology, but this time with focus below the surface. It is an interesting mix between history and vision, something that reminds us where we come from and where we are heading.

The aim during the first period of my graduate programme has been to learn more about Kockums organization. The best way of doing this for me was to rotate to different roles in the company. From roles in the production to project management and R&D, this helped me understand the bigger picture of the business. I found it interesting during the rotations to take part of new insights from people that really had a passion for their work and wanted to tell their story. Trust me; the shipyard is full of stories. Some even claim that you can hear them from the walls and buildings that surround the site.

Regardless of the role, I quickly felt the presence and anticipation of the project everyone talks about; A26, the next-generation submarine for the Swedish navy. I have to admit that it is a satisfying feeling to see the massive blocks of steel being shaped like a can and welded together. However, the A26 program is more than 2000 tons of steel. It is thousands of hour’s development, planning, preparation, construction and testing. The machines are cool but the most impressive thing is the level of skill, competence and engagement from the people that I have met since a started the graduate programme six months ago.

As a newly graduate it is fair to say that I had limited experience of building submarines. This is not the typical case that we studied at our schoolbook examples during my education. Well, some parts can be translated into generalizations of running an industrial company while many other things require knowledge from experiences. This is achieved through a continuous developing loop that permeates the organization and the people working here. For example; at the same time as I learn one new thing I usually find two more that I did not know before. Maybe this is the mindset that will keep Kockums at technological front edge for another 300 years?

It has been a great start at my graduate year and I really looking forward the coming rotations this spring.