A diverse service
Established in May 2009 as a subsidiary of shipbuilding firm Richards Dry Dock and Engineering Ltd (RDDE), Alicat Workboats was originally a designer and constructor of workboats that would operate as crew transfer vessels for the offshore wind sector. Based at Richards Dry Dock on Southtown Road, Great Yarmouth, UK, Alicat has focused on developing close relationships with its customers and researching working conditions, different sea states, operator requirements and state-of-the-art technology; a strategy that has resulted in the company maintaining its reputation as a leader in the design and construction of vessels.
“Initially focusing on designs for craft to work in the offshore wind sector the research team met with naval architect Gavin Mair of Global Marine Design (GMD), based near Fremantle in Western Australia. Working closely with GMD, the traditional ‘Alicat’ design was developed and shortly afterwards construction started at Alicats Great Yarmouth base on the first 20m aluminium wind farm service vessel (WFSV),” says David Blake, business development manager at Alicat Workboats.
“Further research, development and customer interaction led to further designs offering boats for all situations, with the latest technology and designed with the latest understanding of what operators and technicians encounter on a daily basis. Safety, comfort, reliability and performance are just some of the key factors focused on during the development of Alicat designs and to date Alicat has built 25 Alicat craft and eight specific designs,” he adds.
In 2012 RDDE further strengthened its service offering when it acquired the assets of Isle of Wight based boat builder South Boats. New company South Boats IOW was formed and the acquisition enabled the group to continue supplying South Boats’ customers with high quality vessels. “Comparable to say, the Volkswagen Audi group scenario, Alicat and South Boats IOW have the same management team in the background but both boat builders have very independent vessel ranges and different design teams. The great thing from a customer’s perspective though is they will get ongoing support when they need it from either company and we have found some of the most successful operators have vessels from both ranges in their fleet,” highlights David.
Following the acquisition, the business invested in a major rebranding and established various divisions in 2013; these include Alicat Marine Design, Alicat Marine Electrical, Alicat Fabrication, Alicat Stainless Steel Fabrication, Alicat Precision Enginering and Alicat Hydraulics. “Onsite Alicat has multiple divisions and each manage their own autonomy. The company has reinvested substantially and developed the facility into arguably Europe’s most complete small craft maintenance and repair facility. With a genuine understanding of designs for projects such as vessel modifications, refurbishment etc, and stability reports. The facility also keeps a good supply of parts, PPE and other items available for purchase so the vessel crew never need to go far to get their hands on what they need,” notes David.
Maintaining its focus on innovation and advanced thinking has proven fruitful for the boat builders, with vessels supplied to E.On, Seacat Services, Gardline, Dalby Offshore and Iceni Marine over the last 12 months. “We have continued to build upon these relationships and are currently building vessels at both yards for some of these customers. We are also building vessels on spec and these are available for sale now. Two of our vessels will be on display at this year’s Seawork Exhibition on the 16th to 18th June; we will have a large presence from both yards, so people are invited to come along to see the vessels and meet the team at berths V27 and V28,” says David.
A recent contract for the firm is with Dalby Offshore to construct a 23m transfer vessel; announced in the final quarter of 2014, the vessel is due to be delivered in July 2015 and will be the sister vessel to the Dalby Swale, which was delivered in 2014. “The Dalby Swale has proven a fantastic craft with operators, crew and technicians alike, so we are very excited about building another one for Dalby, which will be in total the seventh Alicat in their fleet. The vessel has proven extremely popular due to its reliability, seakeeping and load carrying capability. The crew and technicians also enjoy the vessel as she boasts some of the lowest readings in noise and vibrations around, resulting in a much more comfortable journey. The boats are also finished to the highest quality and have a modern galley, shower rooms, accommodation, wi-fi and entertainment systems.”
With a full order book and strong customer base, Alicat is in a coveted position as it looks to enjoy a highly profitable and successful 2015. However, the company is aware that for shipbuilding to grow in the UK, it must work with organisations such as schools and colleges to provide opportunities to train and potentially shape the future careers of young people. “We currently have ten apprentices at our Great Yarmouth facility, a number we aim to increase throughout 2015. Because we are a diverse company, we try to give our apprentices the opportunity to cross train in different skills, which allows them to determine what they are good at, while also keeping the role stimulating,” says David.
Moving forward, as Alicat continues to retain its competitive edge through innovation, the company also looks to expand all areas of its business from its facilities, while also strengthening its workforce through training, education and apprenticeship opportunities.
Specialises in boat building, small craft maintenance and repair
Acquired the assets of South Boats in 2012
Have maintained strong order book despite a challenging market