Sister shipyards fix WSF ferry damaged in “hard landing”

Written by Nick Blenkey
Cathlamet in dry dock

M/V Cathlamet in ESR’s Faithful Servant dry dock.

When the 328 foot long Washington State Ferry M/V Cathlamet struck one of the mooring dolphins at the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal near Seattle, on July 28, 2022, two sister shipyards — Everett Ship Repair and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders— offered immediate assistance.

Washington State Ferries, which described the strike as “a hard landing,” said the M/V Cathlamet had been “significantly damaged.” The incident is still being investigated by the NTSB and the U.S. Coast Guard, which classified it as a major marine casualty.

Both Everett Ship Repair (ESR) and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) have professional working relationships with Washington State Ferries (WSF) and, as we reported recently, have a long experience on working together on passenger vessel projects.

Everett Ship Repair, of Everett, Wash., has experience with WSF as a local drydocking contractor since 2020. ESR is capable of docking all vessels within WSF’s fleet using its Faithful Servant dry dock which accommodates vessels up to 436 feet x 110 feet with a lifting capacity of 8,000+ tons. ESR served as the prime contractor for the M/V Cathlamet emergency repairs and subcontracted Nichols Brothers Boat Builders for the pickle fork steel construction, which was fabricated on Whidbey Island at NBBB’s facility. NBBB also has significant experience with WSF, imcluding building six new-construction superstructures for vessels of the Kwa-di-Tabil class and the Olympic-class ferries.

“ESR and NBBB value WSF as a customer, and immediately wanted to help when news broke of the M/V Cathlamet allision,” said Gavin Higgins, CEO of both ESR and NBBB. “Our crews are very familiar with WSF vessels, not only do we repair and build the vessels, we are also routine passengers on the Mukilteo/Clinton route. The WSF system is very important to each and every one of us and our businesses.”

The Cathlamet arrived at ESR on August 29, 2022. Coordination between WSF and ESR began, and a project scope of work process was identified. First the vessel would be inspected, engineering and design would follow for the affected areas and new-fabricated modules. Upon design completion, erection of the pickle fork module would take place at NBBB. Once the pickle fork module was complete it woud be loaded onto a barge and transferred to ESR. ESR would then install the pickle fork and apply paint and coatings to the vessel in accordance with WSF’s paint specifications.

ESR executed the project process plan as the prime contractor. The vessel was drydocked, an inspection was completed as well as under-waterline work.

The M/V Cathlamet was then positioned dockside and work began removing the damaged steel and preparing the vessel for the new steel structure.

Meanwhile NBBB began construction on the pickle fork module. Once the module was complete, it was then barged from NBBB’s facility in Freeland to ESR’s facility at the Port of Everett.

The new pickle fork was then installed at ESR, and a new paint system was applied to the new steel. Lastly, the vessels systems were tested and the vessel was re-delivered to WSF.

“As an emergency repair job the M/V Cathlamet project was a unique opportunity for NBBB and ESR to create and execute an agile repair plan that utilized the companies’ capabilities in both new construction and repair,” said ESR project manager Kristin Burkhart. “ESR and NBBB teams coordinated and worked to complete this repair scope using rolling wave planning to integrate conditions found into production execution and sequencing in the goal of delivering the M/V Cathlamet back into service with quality repair work performed efficiently. ”

The M/V Cathlamet was redelivered to WSF on March 2 and will soon go back into service.

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