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It's official: Nichols Brothers to help build state's new 144-car ferry

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland has been hired as one of the subcontractors to build a new 144-car ferry for Washington state, officials from US Fab announced Wednesday.

US Fab, a subsidiary of VIGOR Industrial (formerly Todd Pacific Shipyards), is the prime contractor on the ferry project. The company said Nichols Brothers will build the ferry structure from the car-deck level up.

With the announcement of final subcontracting agreements this week, US Fab officials noted the new ferry project will mean 500 jobs in Puget Sound, some new, and the project will support an estimated 2,000 additional indirect jobs in Washington.

“These agreements ensure the 144-car, 1,500-passenger ferry will be built by workers in various communities in our state as the Washington Legislature directed,” said Kevin Quigley, president of US Fab.

“When passengers drive onto this ferry, they’ll enter on steel fabricated by workers in Tacoma, park atop a hull built in Seattle, ride in the passenger decks constructed on Whidbey Island and rely on systems installed in Everett and around Puget Sound,” Quigley added.

US Fab will construct the ferry’s hull at its Harbor Island shipyard in Seattle.

Other subcontractors include Eltech Electric of Seattle, which will handle electrical installation; Vigor Marine of Everett, which will be responsible for final outfitting, including flooring, galleys, restrooms, insulation, and heating and air conditioning; and Jesse Engineering of Tacoma, which will build the drive-on, drive-off ends of the vessel.

Officials at Nichols Brothers said the announcement was welcome news at the Freeland shipyard.

“This project means a great deal to the people here, where ferries and boat building are an essential part of our lives,” said Nichols Brothers CEO John Collins.

“We’re really pleased and ready to once again put our people to work building these boats for the folks who live, work and visit Whidbey and the other islands,” Collins said.

Construction of the new ferry is expected to involve more than two dozen other subcontractors in the region.

Work will begin in February, with delivery of the new vessel expected in mid-2014.

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