THE job of programme director was never going to be nine-to-five.

There were the endless phone calls and meetings which finished when the business was concluded.

There were 101 things to organise to make sure millions of parts, from washers to turbines, pipes to computer screens, were ready when needed. Schedules were worked out and countless deadlines met.

Angus Holt relished the job. The dad-of-two was given responsibility for the build and delivery of HMS Daring. As first of class, it was always going to be special.

Daring underwent three separate sea trials off the Scottish coastline – and Angus had to be certain that the first of a new generation of destroyer was able to perform to expectations.

The ship's facilities were rigorously tested before it returned to the Clyde.

The second trial focused on the sophisticated on-board combat systems while trial three made certain that every system – such as radar, guns and engines – all worked in unison.

Valuable lessons were learned and, as a result, time spent at sea was later reduced for the rest of the fleet when trials were conducted.

Hardware and software were also upgraded during the lifetime of the programme.

Every new battleship was more advanced than the previous ones which were later refitted.

The buck stopped at the desk with the Angus Holt nameplate.

But the 55-year-old shipbuilder from Beith, North Ayrshire, was surrounded by a high-powered team of specialists and was constantly liaising with the Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy.

Angus had a combined workforce of 2500 workers at Scotstoun and Govan at his disposal. That included an army of 700 engineers and many sub contractors.

He said: "It's worth remembering that 70% of each ship is provided by our suppliers, such as the turbines. The Type 45 is also the first warship to be designed for sailors."

Previous battleships slept up to 42 young ratings in just one large cabin with little seating space and only one television. The accommodation was far from ideal especially when some of the sailors would be trying to sleep while others were watching telly or preparing to go on duty.

Lengthy assignments at sea were a nightmare. The scant regard shown for the junior crew members particularly made recruitment and retention difficult. But that's all changed in the navy of today.

The Type 45 cabins sleep up to six sailors and have separate recreation areas and television rooms, each with a number of large screens.

Some ratings could be watching a football match, others a soap. There's even a quiet reading room.

And in another first, the junior ratings have been given their own bar. In the past on-board watering holes were only provided for the officers. Angus said: "We have introduced a lot of innovative ideas across the fleet.

"It's all about people, even though 95% of systems and items on the Type 45 are all new."

Being responsible for the first of class has left Angus with some fond memories. He said: "The most satisfaction for me was when we handed over Daring to the new crew and the excitement they showed when they took ownership of this brand new vessel.

"I had pride for the workmanship and I was delighted to know the customer was appreciative of what we had achieved here on the Clyde."

And he loved the challenge of helping strengthen the defence of the realm.

He added: "It was very satisfying overcoming the various challenges. But my life is about tackling these challenges."

His deputy and programme director for HMS Duncan was 40-year-old Jennifer Osbaldestin, from Balloch, West Dunbartonshire.

She gave up a glittering career in the Royal Navy as a warfare officer which took her around the world to carve out a new career at the BAE Systems yards at Scotstoun and Govan.

Jennifer was put in charge of Duncan and despite the experience of working on the £6billion programme from the start, today says of her appointment: "It was a bit of a surprise."

She took on the role of programme director in September last year and has had to co-ordinate a host of functions from engin-eering to production, from quality assurance to human resources.

It's been a mammoth task and Jennifer has enjoyed every minute – even the challenges of finding spares and personnel made more difficult because hundreds of workers had been diverted on to block building for Britain's two new aircraft carriers.

She said: "We had what's known as the last ship syndrome when we had to balance the needs of Duncan with the needs of the business.

"When you have other ships in the yard and are looking for a spare part or someone to do something it's not normally a problem."

But there were times when Jennifer and her high-powered team were forced to "beg and borrow" workers and parts to make sure the last of class was completed within budget and ahead of schedule.

She said: "Whenever there was a challenge I had team members capable of using their initiative.

"There will always be challenges but we showed the ability to tackle them."

And Friday will be tinged with sadness and pride when Duncan sails out of Scotstoun on her journey to Portsmouth where she will be officially become the Royal Navy's newest recruit.

Jennifer said: "We have built up a crescendo towards what will be the highlight for me, an acceptance of contract when Duncan is handed over to the Mod."

She added: "The acceptance of contract will be an opportunity to reflect on the journey that got us to this point. There will be a lump in my throat when Duncan sails down the Clyde but also a feeling of enormous pride."


THEY thrive on challenges and for Angus Holt and Jennifer Osbaldestin they don't come much bigger than the mammoth task of delivering Britain's new multi-billion pound fighting force.

As GORDON THOMSON discovered, together they have worked on most of the Type 45s from the first steel cut to the moment the ships were handed over to the Royal Navy.