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Nichols boatyard lines up contract for more tugboats

Matt Nichols, CEO of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders Inc., prepares to heave a mooring line from tug boat Valor before it departs for a short cruise in Saratoga Passage Saturday afternoon. The vessel was christened Saturday in Langley. - Spencer Webster
Matt Nichols, CEO of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders Inc., prepares to heave a mooring line from tug boat Valor before it departs for a short cruise in Saratoga Passage Saturday afternoon. The vessel was christened Saturday in Langley.
— image credit: Spencer Webster

LANGLEY — Looks like Nichols Brothers needed more than one bottle of champagne.

The Freeland shipbuilder christened the tug boat Valor and turned the vessel over to its new owners and operators Saturday afternoon at its pier in Langley. But Nichols Brothers and Baydelta Maritime also announced that Nichols will construct another two tugs for Baydelta next year to make a production total of four tugs. The work will give shipyard employees more than 100,000 man-hours of labor next year as well.

Successful sea and builder’s trials became the final check mark that sealed the deal between the partners, said Bryan Nichols, president of Nichols Brothers.

The announcement was made as hundreds of family members, friends and community members, as well as representatives from Baydelta Maritime and Crowley Maritime Corporation, gathered for the christening celebration.

“That was great news that the contract finally happened,” Nichols said. “That was something we have been working on for a while and of course we were told by the Crowley and the Baydelta folks that they were waiting to see how the performance was.”

“As soon as they saw that the performance had exceeded all of our predictions, we felt really good about the next contract,” he added.

Ronald Charlesworth, Baydelta’s chairman and CEO, said he was excited about the results of the sea trial because he got a lot more than he bargained for in the Valor.

“Yesterday, we did the owner’s sea trials and I had been hoping to get something in the neighborhood of an 80-ton bollard pull,” Charlesworth said.

“That would be 160,000 pounds of pull. Instead, we got 91 tons of bollard pull, which is gigantic,” he said. “It is enormous, a fabulous number.”

“The tug, I think, speaks for itself. It is a beautiful tug. Nichols did a fabulous job. Their folks are first class in my opinion,” Charlesworth said.

While Baydelta owns Valor, Crowley Maritime Corporation will lease the tug and use it from one end of the Puget Sound to the other, said Chris Peterson, general manager for Crowley Maritime’s West Coast operations.

Peterson said he liked what he saw during the trials.

“The sea trials consisted of speed runs, seeing what the maximum speed would be,” Peterson said. “Then on Friday, we conducted what is termed a bollard pull test where we hook into a measuring device on the dock and pull full both frontwards and backwards and the tug was able to generate 91 tons — 180,000 pounds roughly — which is really excellent for this size and class of tug.”

That much power offers a high margin of safety for Crowley tug operators and the ships they will push and pull around, Peterson said.

“Having that amount of reserve power available means during the normal course of business, if you need that extra reserve of power, it is readily available,” he said.

Charlesworth had plenty of praise for the Valor and its builders.

“The tug is probably going to be one of the most highly rated — if not the most highly rated tug — in the North Sound. I think everyone is going to be happy, very happy,” he said. “Hats off to Nichols Brothers, a great shipyard. I would encourage anyone to build tugs there.”

Spencer Webster can be reached at 221-5300 or at swebster@southwhidbeyrecord.com

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