Office for Nuclear Regulation

Devonport Royal Dockyard – Inspection ID: 52034

Date(s) of inspection

  • October 2023

Executive summary

Aim of inspection

The purpose of this Executive Committee (ExCo)  Inspection is to aid ONR’s judgement of the ExCo’s leadership, decision-making, learning, management of organisational capability and internal assurance and challenge. This inspection is part of a series of inspections considering leadership and governance across DRDL, and will be an input to support the judgement of the L1 Issue 11373.

Subject(s) of inspection

  • Leadership & Management for Safety – Rating: Not rated

Key findings, inspector’s opinions and reasons for judgement made

ONR has undertaken an inspection of leadership and governance at Devonport Royal Dockyard Limited (DRDL) with the sample being DRDL Executive leadership. The purpose of the inspection is to aid ONR’s judgement of the Executive committee’s leadership, decision-making and learning. This unrated inspection is part of a series of interventions focused on leadership and governance at DRDL. It informs L1 regulatory issue 11373 and contributes to the annual dutyholder regulatory attention level assessment.

This planned inspection was carried out in October 2023, and considers the Executive Committee’s (Exco) leadership, decision-making and learning.  The sample included observation of an Exco meeting, and interviews with executive committee members holding nuclear safety responsibilities. Relevant good practice for this inspection is ONR’s Safety Assessment Principles (MS. 1 – 4).

I found evidence of areas of good practice and also areas that DRDL should consider strengthening.

Good Practice in my sampling included:

  • The Exco considered that their collective performance is improving and there is better alignment between the Executive. They had a shared and common goal, with priorities clearly articulated and an understanding of their contribution to safe and secure delivery.
  • Evidence was seen of improved executive decision making, from meetings to identify upcoming short term, tactical or operational decisions, including relevant stakeholders , to examples of larger decisions involving the customer to safely optimise outcomes.
  • The MD has defined executive behaviours, such as respect, meeting attendance, attention, commitment, and these have improved behaviours, challenge and relationships. Additionally, a coach is helping reinforce these behaviours within the team. In my opinion this is improving effectiveness of the Exco.
  • There was self awareness across the Exco and they acknowledged that the executive team improvements are not fully mature or self-sustaining, and that effort and improvements need to be continued.
  • The relationship-building exercises with the customer, and discussing strategies and working with them to build trust and communicate rationale and priorities.

Areas that DRDL should consider strengthening or reinforcing included:

  • Verifying that these improvements in executive leadership are being cascaded downwards through the organisational hierarchy to enable the safe delivery of outcomes. For example it is recognised that decisions are escalated to the Exco members rather than being resolved at the appropriate level.
  • Continuing to develop and improve the executive leadership team behaviours at an individual and team level to reflect on their perception that improvement was still required;
  • There is a need as the Exco matures to move from tactical to strategic ways of working.
  • Consider the use of external operating experience to reflect on Exco performance and identify learning to apply.
  • Continue to mature the relationship-building with the customer, building trust and sharing rationale and priorities.

Overall, I judge that relevant good practice was met in the sample inspected with some areas of good practice and some areas that DRDL should consider strengthening.


Overall, I judge that relevant good practice was met in the sample inspected with some areas of good practice and some areas that DRDL should consider strengthening.