Highly regarded submarine engineer coaxed out of retirement to assist local company

3 min read

A vastly experienced engineer who has played a role in developing the Royal Navy’s newest lead submarine has been persuaded out of retirement to share his expertise with an ambitious local company.

For nearly 40 years, Mark Robinson worked at global defence giants BAE Systems, and its predecessor businesses, at the company’s Barrow-in-Furness submarine division, with almost half of that term in a management capacity.

Having retired in 2019, Mark was tempted back into the world of work after being approached by engineering firm Forth, and he felt like the opportunity to help an ambitious and innovative company continue to grow was a challenge he could not pass up.

He brings a wealth of experience in engineering to his new position having played roles in developing some of the UK’s best known submarines, including the Dreadnought class which is set to become the Navy’s lead boat.

Mark said: “I took early retirement and a lot of people told me that I would get fed up if I didn’t have anything to do! It didn’t affect me too much but I did start delivering for a local chemist, and then I met up with a couple of people from Forth and they explained they wanted some help and that, with my background, I could assist them in certain areas.

“I told them I was only prepared to help if I could add value to the team, and they were keen to get me to have an overview of what the business was doing and advise on how to improve practices.

“I went to meet the team and put a plan together to incorporate some of the changes I suggested and it’s been really encouraging to see the way they have taken on board everything I have said and it’s clear this is a team which wants to continuously improve.

“I wanted to be part of a team which is really enthusiastic and motivated, and they have demonstrated that they are very passionate about growing their business and becoming a real leader in the industry.”

Mark started his career as an electrician with Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd in 1981 where he gained a Higher National Certificate, before taking on a role as an engineer within testing and commissioning.

He continued working at the same site in Barrow when the company became VSEL and then Marconi Marine, before BAE Systems acquired the business in the late 1990s.

For the past 20 years, Mark has held supervisory and management roles at the company which is highly regarded across the globe for providing national security and has attained various management qualifications during that period.

One of the most notable projects Mark played a key role in was the development of the First of Class, Dreadnought, a £31 billion programme of Royal Navy submarines which will carry Trident II D-5 missiles.

He played an integral part in the boat’s testing strategy, policing the design of the submarine and developing the testing and commissioning requirements.

He said: “We were responsible for a massive amount of quality, budget forecasting, safety and testing strategy, and all costings and activities were planned out and forecasted to make sure what we were doing was achievable to meet the in-service dates and be cost effective.

“Working on such a high profile, major project for the UK Navy was very interesting and I was proud to play such a role. There have been other classes of submarines I have worked on from the beginning to the end and those programmes have been very fulfilling professionally.”

Mark has been a hugely popular addition to the team at Forth since recently joining the company, and his knowledge and expertise of the industry have helped add another dimension to the pioneering work the firm already carries out.

He has been working predominantly with the company’s Barrow branch, and Operations Director Tony Sneesby said Mark has immediately made a significant impact.

Tony said: “To have somebody with Mark’s knowledge and expertise working with us is a major coup for a business the size of Forth.

“We have ambitions to grow and develop our strong reputation in the industry across the world, and Mark’s wealth of experience and contacts will continue to open doors and provide opportunities to expand.

“Already, he has been such a positive difference to our operations and we are excited to see just how far Mark’s help can take the company as part of our growth plan.”

Forth recently achieved the highly acclaimed, invite only JOSCAR accreditation which identifies the company as a fully compliant supplier for several defence companies and major organisations throughout the UK, including BAE Systems, the Ministry of Defence, Rolls Royce, Airbus and NATS.

The company, which has bases in Flimby, Cleator Moor and Barrow, all in Cumbria, provides a number of services including manufacturing; decommissioning; mixed reality services; installation and site services; design and substantiation; innovation; deep recovery; and a trade counter.