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Bay area Nichols fleet grows
"Nichols Brothers Boat Builders announced this week the third commuter catamaran contract it has landed this summer.The Alameda/Oakland Ferry Service on San Francisco Bay has ordered a 315-passenger catamaran ferry from the Freeland boat yard. The 112-by-33-foot catamaran, designed by International Catamarans, Ltd., Australia, is expected to go into service in the fall of 2001, according to Bryan Nichols, vice president of the firm.The vessel will join a fleet of Nichols-built catamarans that now operate between the Alameda area and the San Francisco ferry terminal and other landings on San Francisco Bay. The new vessel will be acquired by the Alameda/Oakland Ferry Service, which is administered jointly by the City of Alameda and Port of Oakland.Ernest Sanchez, manager of the Ferry Service, said in a news release from Nichols Brothers that the operation counted 522,000 boardings in the year ending in June compared to 474,000 for the same period the prior year. The line presently uses the Nichols-built catamaran, Encinal, with maintenance oversight by the Blue and Gold Fleet. The vessel was originally named Catamarin when built by Nichols in 1985.The Alameda/Oakland Ferry began service in 1989. In 1995, the service acquired the Bay Breeze, also built by Nichols Brothers. That vessel is now utilized by harbor Bay Maritime for service between Alameda's Bay Farm Island, a business and residential development, and San Francisco. This line carried 125,000 passengers in the year ending in June, up from 114,000 the year before.The new Alameda/Oakland vessel will be powered by KTA 38 Cummins engines operating at 1190 hp and driving standard propellers. The vessel is expected to operate at the maximum loaded speed of 26 knots over its 6.5 mile route on San Francisco Bay.The new catamaran contract is the third received by Nichols Brothers since spring. The company will also build catamarans for Catalina Express Lines of San Pedro, Calif., and the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District in San Francisco, for delivery in the spring of 2001. "