Cherbourg. At Naval Group, they are fitter mechanics: “Exceptional know-how”

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Mechanical fitter at Naval Group, in Cherbourg (Manche), Arnaud (on the left) and Julien explain to us here how a torque tightening station works, which is used to check their tightening method.
Mechanical fitter at Naval Group, in Cherbourg (Manche), Arnaud (on the left) and Julien explain to us here how a torque tightening station works, which is used to check their tightening method. (©Coraline SIMON)

Even though there are more than 100 mechanics on the Naval Group site in Cherbourg (Manche), there are less than ten specialized in mechanical adjustment. What is this profession? Meeting with Arnaud and Julien, who explained everything to us.

On the school side, Julien, 33 years old, passed a baccalaureate as a machining technician, then a BEP in the trades of computerized mechanical production. This allowed him to be a machinist, a branch of mechanics. Fitting, he learned “on the job”, here at Naval Group.

Arnaud, 50, trained internally since he attended the school for Navy apprentices, the Arpètes. “We entered it at 16 without a diploma, and after two years of training, if we got the competition, we went to the construction sites. We were then mateloté for 5 years with the elders. The transmission of knowledge was therefore done with them,” he explains.

Extreme precision work

Today the training to become a fitter mechanic no longer exists. This is why, under the guise of the Region and in collaboration with Pôle Emploi, Naval Group will launch a new training course for fitter mechanics, at Bac level, by the end of the year. Open to everyone, it will allowlearn the trade in 15 months (12 months in the center, then 3 months on the site). No prerequisites necessary, except to have left any training course for at least nine months and to have a good general level.

But what does adjustment consist of, you will tell us? Good question, answered by Arnaud.

Adjustment is the act of adjusting parts in relation to references and adjusting them, that is to say retouching them so that they can fit together in a whole and that everything works. What is important is to say in which unit of measurement we are working because that is what determines everything. The fitter works to the hundredth of a millimeter.


We therefore understand that working in this order of accuracy, it is complicated. “The fitter-mechanic works with a lot of hand tools, such as files, abrasives, grinding wheels… He has a exceptional craftsmanship ! continues Arnaud.

Business card

The main missions
Performs the adjustment and functional assembly of parts, elements, mechanical systems individually or in series using machining and forming equipment, according to safety rules and production requirements (quality, deadlines, etc.) . Can coordinate a team.

How to get there
This job is accessible with a diploma from CAP/BEP to Bac (professional, technological baccalaureate, etc.) in mechanical construction. It is also accessible with professional experience in the mechanical and machining sector without a particular diploma. Specific authorizations (welding, etc.) may be required. One or more Certificate(s) of Aptitude for Safe Driving -CACES- subject to medical fitness, to be renewed periodically, may be required.

The breaches of the boat, which are large openings in the hull of the submarine and which are used to embark equipment, are adjusted to the grinding wheel, for example. Imagine a huge part that needs to be adjusted to tenths of a millimetre, it requires incredible precision work.

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Julien also explains to us that all the equipment, such as electrical cabinets, maneuvering presses, weapon launcher handling, etc., have an installation plan. That is to say a surface on which they are placed and which must therefore be as flat as possible, always at 5/100e close. If this is not the case, it can create vibrations, stresses and even breakage.

Everything we do must come close to perfection.

Arnaud and Julian

“Some projects last a week, others a day or even a few hours. Every day we have a new job nearly. It’s never the same”, explains Julien, to whom the diversity of the profession please very much. “And then the boat is so big that you can be specialized in a place, just like being called to move. There are thousands of pieces of equipment on the boat, that’s as many parts to adjust, to bolt! », continues Arnaud.

The fitter mechanic’s day begins with the team leader assigning them a site: which section, which location, which equipment, etc. He then gives them the range, a document where the work to be done is noted: drilling, adjustment of the laying plan, machining, etc.

Their roadmap under the arm, the fitter mechanics then leave for the construction site, where they work always in pairs. They then start by setting up the machines, which can weigh from 3 or 4 kg (drills for example) to several tons (boring bar for example, setting up cradles), and which will then be used for their machining, adjust parts.

“There is no routine in this job”

Meticulous, patient, autonomous, rigorous, resourceful… are all qualities necessary to exercise this profession. “When you’re on board and you’re having a hard time, you have to find solutions,” emphasize Arnaud and Julien.

Constraints of spaces and postures are part of their daily life, that’s why it is necessary to have this capacity for reflection to understand and adapt the tools. This very manual and diversified work makes this job exciting to them.

Since the start of my career, I’ve worked on just about every piece of equipment, and I’ve loved it all. From the sailors’ living quarters to the rear part of the steering gear… Everything is interesting.

Finally, our two fitter mechanics draw our attention to one thing: in 1991, there were 8 women out of 100 mechanics. Today ? Zero. However, it is indeed a job that is no more for men than for women, Arnaud and Julien have assured us. So the call is launched, ladies, for sure that you will be able to flourish in this way and carry out this profession brilliantly.

Coraline SIMON

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