Nichols delivers second fast ferry to Kitsap Transit

Dcim100mediadji 0044.jpg

(FREELAND, Wash.) — Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) has delivered the second of two 255-passenger ferries to Kitsap Transit of Bremerton, Wash. Like Enetai, the first-in-class vessel, Commander exceeded design expectations during trials.

“They are the Audi A8 of passenger ferries — fast, smooth and quiet,” said Nick Zustiak, director of manufacturing at NBBB. “Customer friendly, modern, reliable ferries is what the Pacific Northwest needs, and Kitsap Transit is making it happen. Although the builds of the Enetai and Commander were challenging during the pandemic, the team pulled together and delivered high-quality vessels. Thank you, Kitsap Transit and Elliott Bay Design Group, for your support during the build and commissioning process.”

Dcim100mediadji 0044.jpg
Nichols Brothers Boat Builders photo

Kitsap Transit awarded a design and construction contract to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders for two new ferries in December 2018. NBBB partnered with BMT of Southampton, United Kingdom, for the vessel design.

Commander and Enetai are 140-by-37-by-12-foot aluminum high-speed catamarans built to U.S. Coast Guard Subchapter K regulations. They are among the first ferries to feature a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust aftertreatment system powered by two MTU Tier 4 16V400M65L main engines, each putting out 3,435 hp at 1,800 rpm through ZF 9050 gears turning Kamewa S71-4 waterjets. The vessels can reach 38-plus knots at full load.

Kitsap Transit’s design requirements included a bow-loading configuration to allow the vessels to utilize Washington State Ferries’ (WSF) existing Southworth car ferry dock for loading and unloading of passengers. With speed requirements of a minimum 35-knot cruising speed, it allows for efficient route scheduling that doesn’t interfere with WSF’s existing schedule.

During vessel trials, Commander and Enetai exceeded 40 knots, bettering the speed expectations by 3 knots. The Naiad active ride control system ensured a smooth and comfortable ride at high speed.

In addition to the 255-passenger capacity, the vessels accommodate 26 bicycles, a must for Seattle commuters. Leisure and commuting passengers alike will appreciate the onboard amenities. An advanced heating and air-conditioning system will keep passenger areas warm in the winter and cool in the summer; seats and tables are outfitted with outlets and USB ports for laptop and phone charging; and the vessel is equipped with high-speed WiFi connectivity.

“The two Kitsap Transit ferries were built during the global COVID-19 pandemic, forcing NBBB to significantly rearrange production to allow for safety protocols required to protect our workforce. Kitsap Transit was incredible to work with showing encouragement toward the safety of our people and operations,” said Gavin Higgins, NBBB CEO. “As the region returns to normalcy, it is exciting and rewarding to see two new ferries built by NBBB operating right here in the Pacific Northwest.”

– Nichols Brothers Boat Builders

By Professional Mariner Staff