Catching up with Daryl Wickett, Senior Chargehand of Mechanical at Victoria Shipyards

July 20, 2023

Over the years, Seaspan has seen a wide variety of vessels going through Victoria Shipyards. We recently caught up with Daryl Wickett, one of the Senior Chargehands of Mechanical on the Victoria In-Service Support Contract (VISSC) program, to hear more about his 17 years of experience at Seaspan. From submarines to cruise ships, Daryl talks about why the trades and shipbuilding industry holds a special place in his career.

Why did you go into this career field?

I’ve always known I would somehow be working in the trades. My family’s history points directly to this career path. My mom just retired from her career at the Fleet Maintenance Facility, and my dad’s background is in automotive mechanics with time spent at Yarrows, and he is currently the Mechanical Union Representative. Three of my uncles and my brother also work in trades here in Victoria as well and my grandpa had a career at Yarrows Shipyard prior to its closure, so it’s really the whole family involved in the same industry.

I didn’t really have an idea of what specific kind of trades I wanted to go into when I first started my career. I tried out a few things at first, but nothing really stuck with me until I became a Machinist apprentice here at Victoria Shipyards in 2006. I’ve been here since, so that’s a little over 17 years; that’s half of my life.

What does your day-to-day role look like?

As a Senior Chargehand of Mechanical, I’m in charge of a crew and I coordinate and plan the work that comes down from the planning team. I make sure we execute the work safely and efficiently so that we maintain the schedule and get the ship out the door in a timely fashion. Besides that, I also handle closures and paperwork as well as assisting with the planning of activities. I like to think that my position is the bridge between management and production.

How is your team striving for improvement when it comes to your work on this program? What has changed since you started working on the submarine program? 

Our team on the VISSC program as well as elsewhere in the yard are constantly looking to improve our skills so we can effectively conduct refits on the numerous vessels we see here at Victoria Shipyards. We are also always looking at ways to improve our tooling and processes to improve our efficiency and quality of work. Since I have been in the yard and especially on the VISSC program, we have improved many things that make us better including the addition of CNC operated machines in the Machine Shop and the addition of some machining equipment in the VISSC shops. Not only that but the expansion and building of new shops has also helped with our operations.

What is the most exciting project that you’ve worked on at Victoria Shipyards?

The DSV Alvin submarine was one of the research vessels that I had the chance to do a quick fix up on. They had a broken crane on the back of the vessel and that specific crane was used to lift the NASA rover, so that was interesting to come across. That is what makes this job worthwhile as well; being able to see each of the unique features that is specific to the different vessels. BC Ferries, for example, it’s not every day you can say that you’ve worked on a ship that people take for vacations. Same goes for the cruise ships that stop by the Victoria Shipyards.

What do you love about working in the shipbuilding industry? Can you share any advice for anyone considering a similar path? 

A big draw for me to get into this industry was the fact that you get to work on so many different vessels, whether it be cruise ships, navy frigates, or submarines, there is a variety of vessels to work on. Anybody who likes to work with their hands and learn some new skills and knowledge, this would be the right path for them.