Supplier spotlight: SeaKing Electrical says Cammell Laird’s support ‘crucial’
Birkenhead’s Seaking Electrical Ltd was set up in April 2001 to deliver maintenance and project work for the marine sector. Directors David Gillam, Eric King, Martin Sealeaf and Chris Dahill formed the company with a vision of targeting opportunities specifically within commercial shipping, ferries, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the Royal Navy, cruise ships and superyachts.
The firm’s key client is Cammell Laird where it operates as the prime electrical contractor. SeaKing supports with electrical design and installation, control panel manufacture and general refurbishment work. The firm has grown alongside Cammell Laird developing a complex internal infrastructure and processes to provide appropriate support. Around two thirds of SeaKing’s turnover is generated through Cammell Laird contracts.
The success of this relationship has been hugely valuable to SeaKing creating security, stability and growth. The firm now employs more than 70 people. Further investments have been made in office space, facilities, machinery and equipment to support Cammell Laird projects. This nature of the work has also equipped SeaKing with skills to operate at a higher standard across other projects, and consistently supply a flexible and responsive service for all clients.
Key projects delivered for Cammell Laird include flight decks on sections of both Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. It further installed a new bridge on the RFA Fort Victoria. The relationship has encouraged a culture of continuous development and stringent internal management systems ensuring SeaKing delivers the highest quality of work. As a result of its dedication to internal consistency, the firm transitioned its ISO certifications to the 2015 standards for 14001 and 9001.
Due to its growing profile and credibility as a tier one supplier to Cammell Laird, SeaKing has been able to steadily build a broad client base across the globe. The firm now works in shipyards across the UK, Europe, Asia, Americas and Caribbean covering many market segments of the marine sector. It has acquired a depth of knowledge and skills through complex RFA and commercial shipping contracts. While this remains the bulk of its work, the experience has enabled the firm to diversify. Since 2012, SeaKing has expanded its portfolio of work on commercial ships, cruise ships, ferries and superyachts. In 2018 alone, it completed projects on 26 superyachts.
The steady stream of work from Cammell Laird has also enabled SeaKing to address key growth challenges such as local skills shortages. In 2005 SeaKing identified a growing issue with its own workforce. Although highly experienced, the staff base was ageing. There was a growing need to introduce the next generation of engineers, and an even greater need to transfer knowledge. With the ballast provided by Cammell laird contracts SeaKing was able to invest in an apprenticeship programme, which continues to flourish to this day. A key element of the programme allows trainees to shadow experienced engineers to learn on the job by observation and gaining installation experience.
SeaKing employs at least four new apprentices every year. To date, the firm has led more than 40 apprentices through the process becoming fully qualified marine electrical engineers. Its training programmes have also resettled skilled military personnel and attracted a number of experienced naval electrical engineers.
SeaKing Electrical managing director Dave Gillam said: “The support and success of Cammell Laird over many years has played a pivotal role in the evolution of SeaKing. We are proud of this relationship and to have supported Cammell Laird for more than a decade, in particular with its RFA cluster contract delivering ‘through-life support’ to a catalogue of MoD vessels.
“Planning for the future we are pleased to see Cammell Laird winning through life support contracts for nine RFA vessels and four Tide-class tankers, plus six UK Royal Navy Destroyers as part of the Type 45 Power Improvement Project. These contract wins come as a major boost to Merseyside’s maritime sector and supply chain as a whole. We look forward to supporting Cammell Laird over the next decade, and greatly value the work which has been crucial in helping SeaKing develop, invest and diversify into other market segments.”