Nichols to build two tractor tugs

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders has landed two more contracts for its popular line of tractor tugs.

Company CEO Matt Nichols said the contracts were signed in late March though he could not yet release the name of the buyer. He confirmed that it is a tugboat firm that operates along the West Coast.

The two new vessels will be the seventh and eighth tractor tugs the Freeland shipyard has built in recent years. Like the others, they will be 100 feet long and come equipped with 7,000 horsepower under the hood.

“It can pull, I’ll tell you that,” Nichols said.

Nichols declined to say how much the two contracts are worth but past vessels have tabbed out to about $10 million each. The first tug is due for completion by March 2013 with the second to follow in July.

Along with its existing work, including the construction of the superstructure for a 144-car state ferry, the new contracts will keep the shipyard busy for the next two years and swell company employment by about 100 workers.