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From fighter jets to submarines

5 min read

Patric started with Saab as a Computer Systems Engineer on the Gripen fighter jet avionics system. Moving to Australia, he was part of the design and build of Australia’s Collins class submarines, and he has since pioneered the evolution of Saab’s Australian operations, driven the business’ largest naval contract wins and now manages Saab’s underwater group.

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Graduating from university, Patric joined Saab as an Engineer on the Gripen program in Sweden.

“Saab had a lot of new and interesting high technology and Defence programs in Sweden at that time and they were well funded.”

Pioneering Australia’s submarine capability

After some time working in avionics, he pursued a move into the underwater domain, where his experience with submarines first began. Patric joined the Systems Engineering team, working on the design of the control system for Australia’s newest submarine, the Collins class.

Having worked comprehensively as part of the Collins class program in Sweden, Patric seized the opportunity to grow and expand his engineering and management experience by migrating to Australia in 1993.  As the main system activities were being transferred to Australia, Patric was a part of the team, driving the design and build program forward.

“It almost felt pioneering, the whole program was a technology transfer program and no one had ever attempted to build submarines in Australia before.”

During Patric’s early days in Australia, he managed the Australian side of Saab’s program during the test, integration and set to work of the Integrated Ship Control Management and Monitoring System (ISCMMS) – essentially the nerve centre of the submarine.

“It was an exciting place at the time – a new shipyard in Osborne, new buildings and new people, to ultimately deliver highly capable and potent Australian-built submarines for the Royal Australian Navy”

Having delivered ISCMMS in the 1990’s, Saab has continued to support and upgrade the system for over two decades. The system is recognised as one of the submarines’ most reliable and successful systems over the life of the fleet.

As Saab’s establishment in Australia evolved, so did Patric’s career – he was appointed the Chief Engineer and was responsible for integrating the Collins program into Saab’s Australian operations, as well as for the development of a new technical regulation framework.

“I was excited with the change getting new great experience, but ultimately, I found it wasn’t operational enough for me, so I made the decision to transition into General Manager Naval Systems when the opportunity opened up.”

As Saab’s GM Naval Systems, Patric lead the team working on Australia’s Anzac class surface ship program and the sale of Saab’s combat management system 9LV into other classes of vessels. It was during this time that the team secured a number of significant milestones including; Saab’s selection for the Anzac ASMD upgrade and the Canberra class. The later becoming the second platform for Saab Australia and the second class of RAN surface vessel to have Saab’s 9LV on board.

With Saab’s acquisition of the Swedish submarine designer and builder Kockums, Saab Australia created its Underwater group and with Patric’s submarine experience and management of complex defence programs, he was the prime candidate to lead the division, taking on the role as General Manager Underwater.

Saab submarines – adaptable, modular, exceptional

Saab possesses a unique capability to design (and build) submarines – and when it comes to Saab submarines, the company has a proven track record in a number of Navies.

“If you enjoy challenging programs, submarines is as good as it gets in Australia.”

“There are few things as complex as a submarine - you are talking about a crewed war vessel that needs to effectively do its job in an environment where humans wouldn’t normally survive.”

“Utilising an evolutionary and modular philosophy, Saab is very innovative in terms of how modular our submarines are. We are also early adopters of modern methods and tools such as model based design, as well as robotics and automation for the shipyard.”

“Saab submarines are unique in that they are designed to be upgraded, as and if required.”

Leading the Underwater team in Australia, Patric has seen the ongoing evolution of Saab’s underwater division, as it has grown and diversified.

“The people in our group have extraordinary experience and expertise. We’ve established a diverse team of problem solvers who intrinsically have a passion for delivering leading capability.”

The group has a broad range of engineering experience from upgrades and support for the Collins class, systems integration services for the future Attack class, work with unmanned underwater vehicles and support for Saab’s international underwater programs.

 “The team is cohesive because of the culture. As problem solvers, they think outside of the box for great solutions. This instils a level of trust in the team that enables people to be the best they can be – inherently this increases the calibre of work the team can produce.”

People and trust

No doubt, it is Patric’s trust in his people and his teams that has been a source of success, and one of his favourite things about Saab.

“It’s not just because of the great expertise and that our people know their stuff, they are also great people and that’s why I’m still with Saab. The people make the culture and we have a culture that lets people be their best”.

“The key is that, it’s a trusting culture – we trust our people to do the right thing. Simply trust our people – and trust goes both ways.

Quick facts about Patric