Beehive of Activity at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders
W i t h i t s ro lli n g h i ll s and pas-
tures dotted with farms and lush stands of Douglas firs, cedars and maples, picturesque Whidbey Island would hardly seem a likely spot to find a bustling shipyard. But Whidbey Island—about an hour-and-half drive from Seattle (including a trip aboard
12 Marine Log // December 2016
a car ferry operated by Washington State Ferries between Mukilteo and Clinton)—is home to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. A recent visit to the shipyard found ever y inch of its relatively modest 12 acres packed with new construction activity. Among the projects at the shipyard is a 100-passenger coastal cruise ship under construction for Lindblad—the 238 ft twin-screw diesel ship will operate tours between Baja, Costa Rica and Panama during the winter months and southeast Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Canada during the Summer months. Additionally, we saw the superstructure and hull of a new powerful ATB tug, a line haul tug for Kirby, and an aluminum superstructure for a catamaran ferry for the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) under construction. A nearly complete sister ship of the WETA ferry—the hulls are built by Vigor—is also in the yard for outfitting. Like Noah, Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) has been able to sign orders for two vessels of each type currently being built at the yard. That means that next year, the shipyard
will look relatively the same. It also means that engineering costs will be able to be spread and production efficiencies gained for each class of vessel. Keeping all of the newbuild projects on time and on budget is critical, points out COO Gavin Higgins. Each project is broken down into about 2,000 task lines and planned, scheduled and controlled closely using Oracle’s Primavera P6 project management system. At NBBB’s other small facility in Langley, about 10 minutes by car from the main Freeland facility, the finishing touches were being put on a unique 140 ft x 38 ft cargo ferry built for American Samoa. The 150-passenger SOLAS vessel— which looks more like a supply boat than a ferry—will be able to take containerized cargo and fuel between Pago Pago and the Manu’a Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Founded in 1964, NBBB offers complete new construction, repairs and conversions in both aluminum and steel, with full service production departments for ship fitting, production welding, pipe systems, electrical, joinery, machine, painting, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.