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Today, Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: LIND) reported that it has signed definitive agreements with Nichols Brothers Boat Builders for the new build of two U.S. flagged coastal vessels. The 100 guest ships will be built at the Nichols Brothers shipyard on Whidbey Island, WA. The first completed ship is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2017 and the second vessel is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2018.
Lindblad had previously signed a non-binding letter of intent with Nichols Brothers for these new builds and paid a $4 million non-refundable slot fee during the third quarter of this year to reserve the shipyard’s capacity, which will be charged against the second vessel’s cost.
The definitive agreements provide for Nichols Brothers to construct the two new build vessels at a purchase price of $48.0 million and $46.8 million, respectively, payable monthly based on the value of the work performed (offset by the $4.0 million slot fee previously paid).
Jensen Maritime is serving as the naval architect on the project with interior design work provided byTillberg Design International. Building of the vessels will commence this year.
“These new ships mark an exciting step in the long-term growth of the company, and enables us to capitalize on the substantial demand for our expeditions. With our significant resources we can continue to deliver on our promise of expedition travel at its best, and can now expand our unique offerings in the Americas where we have very strong demand,” said Sven Lindblad, President and CEO of Lindblad. “We are pleased to be working with Nichols Brothers in Washington State on this project given their long history in shipbuilding, including having built our current U.S. flagged ships, the National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird.”
“This is an important milestone in the company’s history as we enter the 50th Anniversary of the birth of expedition travel begun by my father, Lars-Eric Lindblad, with the first laymen expedition to Antarctica in 1966,” Mr. Lindblad added.
Some key features of the new vessels:
- 50 cabins: 22 with balconies, and eight that can be configured into four adjoining cabins for families.
- all public spaces are designed for maximum viewing with easy, quick access to decks for inevitable announcements from the bridge of a phenomenal sighting.
- outdoor walkway around the entire sun deck, which will feature an al fresco bar and grill, in addition to the restaurant and a lounge with bar and facilities for presentations.
- fleet of sea kayaks, paddle boards, and specially designed landing craft – all of which are geared to get guests out and into the wild, remote places being explored.
- fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa.
- state-of-the-art expedition technology, including a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), video microscope, and a hydrophone and bow-cam designed for immediate bow deployment to hear and film, for instance, humpback whale vocalizations and see bow-riding dolphins.
- full warm and cold water diving gear and underwater cameras for the Undersea Specialist to bring back rare imagery of the undersea world.
- state-of-the-art A/V system for the highest quality presentations, including National Geographic photography instruction.
The sister ATB tug, the Tina Pyne, is is scheduled for launch in December 2015.
The new track and dolly system was specifically developed by Engineering Heavy Service (EHS) for vessels greater than 1,000 tons. It is a development of the system that has been used successfully multiple times for transferring the Washington State Ferry 144 car ferry superstructures fabricated at Nichols Brothers on to a barge for transport to assembly with the hull.
The EHS launch system moved the ATB from the shipyard to the launch ramp. General Construction provided two floating cranes to assist in the final lifting of the vessel, shuttling it to deeper water.
The vessel was towed to Everett, WA for lightship, stability testing and fuel transfer. Following this the tug will be towed to Nichols Brothers outfitting pier in Langley, WA, located across the Puget Sound from Everett, WA, for final outfitting, dock and sea trials before its final delivery.
The new launch system significantly increases the displacement and draft of the vessels that Nichols Brothers can haul and launch in the future. Currently the shipbuilder is engineering to install ridged buoyancy tanks to the side of the launch frame, eliminating the need for the floating cranes in the future.