Passenger vessel work keeps Washington State sister yards busy

Written by Marine Log Staff
ship repair work underway

Everett Ship Repair with YT-803 in dry dock, M/V Cathlamet dockside and M/V Christine Anderson in dry dock

Among challenges facing passenger vessel operators are stricter emissions requirements, post-pandemic market changes — and more recently lack of ship repair yard availabilities.

Sister Washington State shipyards Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) and Everett Ship Repair (ESR) have been working to maximize their shipyard capacities and work force capabilities to support vessel operators in need of shipyard space at a moment’s notice.

Everett Ship Repair, in the Port of Everett, Wash., operates two floating dry docks serving operators on the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii. The Faithful Servant is one of the four largest dry docks in the Pacific Northwest and can accommodate vessels up to 436 x 110 feet with a lifting capacity of 8,000+ short tons. The Emerald Lifter, ESR’s most recent addition to its facilities, accommodates vessels up to 220 x 62 feet, with a lifting capacity of 2,000+ short tons. In addition to dry dock space, ESR offers in-water services with 500 feet of moorage space pier-side, barge-side, or alongside six (6) dolphins.

ship repair
Everett Ship Repair with M/V National Geographic Venture in Faithful Servant dry dock

ESR says that no job is too complex for it to handle. It says its goal is to dock vessels for quick turnaround and get them back in the water. Recently, Lindblad Expeditions placed the NBBB built M/V National Geographic Venture cruise ship in ESR’s Faithful Servant dry dock for regulatory inspections and standard drydocking. ESR was able to complete the scope of work and have Lindblad back in the water four days ahead of schedule.

At the same time, ESR was preparing the M/V Cathlamet for a more complex emergency repair job for Washington State Ferries. ESR served as prime contractor and subcontracted module construction to NBBB, before installing the new pickle fork modules at ESR. ESR was able to accommodate the vessel in the Faithful Servant for dry dock repairs prior to mooring the vessel pier-side for final completion. At the same time, Pierce County’s ferry M/V Christine Anderson (also originally built at NBBB), arrived at ESR for regulatory drydocking, repair, maintenance and preservation. Modifications included the sea chest vent piping as well as the shaft seawater cooling system. ESR completed a new paint system with full blasting, paint coatings to the hull and superstructure, as well as application of a non-skid coating to the car deck.


Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island, in Freeland, Wash., is both a complete new-build shipyard and full-service repair facility. NBBB accommodates repair and conversion jobs ranging in size and complexity and can haul vessels up to 250 x 75 x 18 feet and 2,500 short tons.

In recent months, the yard NBBB has been visited by a constant flow of passenger vessels including Kitsap Transit’s M/V Solano, formerly owned and operated by San Francisco Bay Ferries. The ferry is undergoing an extensive overhaul of the machinery equipment, gearboxes, main engines, generators, and jet thrusters. Several pipe systems are being retrofitted with copper nickel aluminum. Outfitting includes an all-new custom console with state-of-the-art navigation electronics, latest interior finishes and seating throughout. The vessel will be topped off with new paint to match the Kitsap Transit color scheme.

ship repair work
M/V Solano under repair at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders

The Catalina Island Ferry Service recently contracted with NBBB to undertake major upgrades of its 600 passenger catamaran ferry Catalina Islander. The work included a full superstructure restoration and major equipment upgrades within the hull. NBBB prepared the vessel for superstructure removal prior to the upgrades. With the superstructure removed, NBBB will install new interior wall panels, update the electricals, install a new sound system, fire detection system, modern Dampa lighting and ceilings, upgrades to the console and electronics package, install new steering controls, and updated interior UES seating. The bars on both main and upper decks will be upgraded, as well as restrooms, along with new windows throughout, and upgrades to the HVAC.

ship repair work
M/V Catalina Flyer House removal at NBBB

NBBB will fabricate new house mounts for the superstructure to be set on the hull, which will require minor plating repairs. Inside the hull NBBB will perform a complete blast and paint system and will remove vessel’s existing engines and replace them with new MTU 16V 4000 main engines. Gear boxes will be rebuilt, as well as the generators, a new dry exhaust system will be installed, and upgrades to the fire, bilge, freshwater and black water piping will also be completed. Shafting and steering components will also be renewed.

NBBB has also completed major upgrades and repairs to the M/V Glacier Express, a sightseeing high-speed catamaran owned and operated by Major Marine Tours of Seward, Alaska. While in the shipyard the superstructure was removed from the hulls prior to extensive repairs and upgrades to both the house and hulls. The vessel underwent a complete repower consisting of removal of the existing main engines and replacing them with new CAT engines. New ZF gears were installed and the main engine exhaust was rerouted from thru side to discharging thru bottom. Generators were also removed and replaced. New rudders were built and installed. The vessel also received a new hydraulic steering system, fire and bilge pumps, and piping as required. Additionally, the plate was also replaced. New structural fire protection, machinery space ventilation system, and renewal of the fire protection system was also completed. Simultaneously, the house received new mounts and beam structure repairs. A complete new electronics package was installed along with steering controls, sound system, fire detection system, Dampa lighting system, and Dampa ceiling. All windows were removed and replaced with new glued on double pane windows. NBBB built a new exterior canopy for the second passenger deck. The entire vessel was blasted and coated with a new paint system. Lastly all required USCG inspections were completed for COI.

The M/V Melissa Ann, also a Major Marine Tour’s vessel, went through repair, maintenance and preservation at NBBB including new Dampa ceiling, Dampa lighting system, complete pressure wash and paint, hull and superstructure plating repairs, new life raft mount at stern of vessel, bow exterior railing, new 2nd deck canopy over passenger area, and renewal of some house mounts. Minor piping and electrical repairs were also done. All required USCG inspections were completed prior to redelivery to the customer.

NBBB is supporting Kitsap Transit with required repairs as part of their annual USCG inspection onboard the M/V Finest, along with some convenience upgrades. The vessel is also receiving a refresh of the antifoul paint while in shipyard at NBBB.

Shared Ice Services (SIS) is a sister-company to ESR and NBBB and was recently established to support the management and operation of the two shipyards. SIS employees are specialists who support the two shipyards simultaneously allowing NBBB and ESR to maximize the talent of executive management, project management, technical professionals and trade specialists.

Shared Ice Services is a subsidiary of Ice Cap Holding LLC, the parent company of Ice Floe, LLC dba Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) and Everett Ship Repair, LLC (ESR).

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