Kyle Jensen / The Record — Nichols Brothers most recently completed vessel, an articulating tug barge named S-182 Abundance, launched from the boat yard on Tuesday. It’s the heaviest vessel to launch from the boat yard in “a long time.”

Nichols Brothers launches ‘heaviest vessel’ in recent memory

Nichols Brothers’ most recently completed and heaviest vessel launched “in a long time” took to the sea on Tuesday.

The large, black and bright orange articulating tug barge (ATB), an ocean-class vessel, inched its way into shallow Holmes Harbor on Tuesday with the help of airbags and an 800 ton crane nicknamed “The General.” According to CEO Gavin Higgins, the launch was completed much faster than usual.

“It always takes about 24 hours to launch a vessel like this,” Higgins said. “But we noticed The General was in and out in under 12 hours. It was pretty efficient.”

In recent years, Nichols began using a new launch system. Instead of the old crawler that carried boats into the water on bulldozer or tank tracks, they ride down a rail. It hasn’t been trouble free, however. Holmes Harbor is shallow and two 136-foot tugs launched in 2015 and 2016 both required cranes on barges to get to deep enough water due to their deep draft — the amount of the vessel that under the water. Large flotation bags were also strapped to the boats.

Higgins said the system has since been modified to handle larger ships. Its capacity was upgraded from 800 to 1,500 tons.

The tugboat, named S-182 Abundance, is the first of two 139-by-44-foot ATB ocean-class vessels Nichols Brothers is constructing for an unnamed client; Higgins declined to release the name of the company due to contract restrictions concerning public relations.

Higgins said construction of the other tugboat, S-183 Vision, recently began. The vessels are powered by two 4,000 horsepower engines capable of 900 revolutions per minute. Both weigh in at 1,500 tons. They’ll have an operating draft of approximately 19 feet.

Higgins said S-182 Abundance will be used to push a liquid ammonia barge currently being built by Vigor Industrial in Portland.

The vessel’s construction began around March 2016.

Justin Burnett / The Record — The vessel was launched with the help of “the general,” an 800-ton crane that helps pull the tugboat from a barge.

More in News

Port of Coupeville commissioners not liable in lawsuit

Two Port of Coupeville commissioners won’t be individually liable in a lawsuit… Continue reading

Tokitae returns to Clinton-to-Mukilteo ferry route

The MV Tokitae is back in action. The 144-vehicle vessel returned to… Continue reading

Machete-wielding Oak Harbor man accused of rape

A man is accused of chasing a woman with a machete and… Continue reading

Lockdown on base lifted, no evidence of gunfire found

Navy security wasn’t able to identify a noise that caused the lock… Continue reading

Island County Court District Judge looking for court commissioner

A long time court commissioner in Island County District Court resigned last… Continue reading

Langley settles lawsuit; mayor takes issue with claim

The City of Langley last week paid $15,000 to settle a lawsuit… Continue reading

Langley’s rabbit discussion returns; Port weighs options

Concerns over diseases and rabbit hole liability has brought back Langley’s bunny… Continue reading

Blythe Hawley steps into South Whidbey Fire/EMS commissioner role

South Whidbey Fire/EMS recently seated a new member on its board of… Continue reading

Police: Suspect, 28, taped himself beating a homeless man

A 28-year-old Oak Harbor resident is facing a felony assault charge after… Continue reading

Most Read