Justin Burnett/The Record National Geographic Quest, a 240-foot cruise boat, was damaged during a launch into Holmes Harbor earlier this month. It forced the cancellation of several scheduled tours in June and July.

National Geographic boat was damaged during launch; cruise company cancels scheduled tours

The National Geographic Quest, a 240-foot cruise boat completed by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders for Lindblad Expedition Holdings earlier this month, was damaged during its launch into Holmes Harbor, resulting in the cancellation of a succession of scheduled tours, the cruise line has announced.

According to a statement from the company, the 100-passenger vessel was in the process of being launched on June 14 stern first down a gravel ramp when the accident occurred.

“As she began to float, she slid from the launch ramp and one propeller and rudder were grounded and damaged,” the company reported.

“Divers and surveyors were engaged and it has become clear that full repair requires dry docking the ship to fully evaluate the extent of damage.”

“We have decided to cancel the July 8 and July 15 Alaska voyages in order to provide the necessary time to assess and repair the damage, and to give as much notice as possible to our guests and assist them with possible alternatives for their planned holiday,” the statement said.

The vessel was initially scheduled to depart on its first cruise north on June 26.

Quest was launched over a five-day period using a system of inflatable bags; the ship was rolled down the ramp with the descent being controlled by a large crane. The damage was sustained during the final day of the operation.

According to Nichols Vice President Matt Nichols, the shipyard hired a subcontractor to do the launch. They were very “professional,” he said, and described the problem as a “miscalculation.”

“It’s just one of those things that happens,” Nichols said.

“But, nobody was hurt,” he added. “And everything is fixable.”

Nichols said the rudder and propeller were removed in Anacortes and the repairs to the parts are largely complete.

“They’re all fixed at this point; we just have to get them [the propeller and rudder] back on in a dry dock in Bellingham,” he said.

The Quest is one of two sister ships Nichols is building for Lindblad. The second ship is scheduled for delivery in 2018. The total contract is for $94.8 million.