Massive cranes to arrive in Holmes Harbor tonight to help stranded tug

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders' new tugboat

Two days after the failed launch of a 136-foot tugboat into Holmes Harbor, a Nichols Brothers Boat Builders official confirmed the company will attempt to float the vessel again tonight.

This time, the Freeland shipyard is bringing in two 300-ton cranes on barges to help the new tug, the Nancy Peterkin, to deeper water.

“I think we’re going to have plenty of capacity,” said Matt Nichols, company executive vice president. “It’s going to go tonight.”

The operation is set to begin about 7 p.m. during the high tide.

Nichols Brothers partially launched the tugboat Friday, successfully shuttling it across East Shoreview Drive and into shallow water. It was scheduled to be fully launched on an extreme high tide on Monday, but a problem occurred with a new launching system.

Utilizing a low track with dollies and floats, it was initially believed the system malfunctioned and stopped the boat before it reached the end of the track and a deep-water hole. Nichols said Wednesday, however, that was not the case and that the track wasn’t long enough — it stops about 60-feet before the hole.

A tugboat attempted to pull the Nancy Peterkin, which has a 19-foot draft, to deeper water Monday evening but the vessel wouldn’t budge and the effort was abandoned with the tide change. The shipyard was expected to try again Tuesday evening but it took time to mobilize the cranes and the effort was rescheduled for Wednesday, Nichols said.

If tonight’s launching is successful, the boat will go to Everett for stability testing. It will later return to the shipyard’s dock in Langley.

The Nancy Peterkin is an articulated tugboat, or ATB, and was commissioned for Kirby Offshore Marine. The vessel is expected to operate along the West Coast, between Puget Sound and the San Francisco Bay area in California.