WEST COAST YARD REVIEW
Consisting mainly of small to medium-size yards, the West Coast is a specialty market. But specializing has its rewards, as West Coast yards have earned a reputation for quality workmanship, innovative design and construction methods, and the flexibility to change with the marketplace. The group of yards included in this report vary widely, from giant National Steel & Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) to mid-sized Todd to the smaller Westport. However, the shared goal among all is continued strong business of ship and boat building and repair.
Todd Shipyards, Seattle, Wash.: New manager, Roland Webb came to Todd from a three-year stint as project director for Integrated Ferry Constructors, Inc., where he oversaw the modular construction of B. C. Ferry's newest Spirit class vessels. Stockholders charged Mr. Webb with the task of reorganizing a cumbersome, outdated facility and streamlining it to compete in the lean marketplace of the '90s.
Consultants from Maritech Engineering Japan (MEJ) are assisting in the restructuring efforts which include updating equipment and downsizing staff.
Todd recently converted two Matson containerships to the new open-top design, and completed renovations to theTillicum, a Washington State ferry, and the U.S.
Coast Guard (USCG) icebreaker, Polar Star. They currently have an off-site crew working on the USS Nimitz at the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton. Future work includes a second icebreaker and a major overhaul of the USS Camden, a Navy AOE.
Todd runs three drydocks ranging in size from 412 ft. x 66 ft. (125.5 m x 20.1 m) to 873 ft. x 137 ft. (266 m x 41.7 m) with a maximum capacity of 40,000 long-tons. In answer to local environmental concerns, Todd is in the process of replacing its sandblasting equipment with waterblasting technology. "We can offer a more strategic location," says Mr. Webb of Todd's Port of Seattle dock, "and a fullservice yard." Crews can be dispatched directly to the unloading docks, many times facilitating repairs without interrupting shipping schedules.
Although primarily a repair and conversion yard, Todd is currently preparing a construction bid for the Jumbo Mark II ferries, a proposed $210 million, three-vessel project for the Washington State Ferry System.
Nichols Bros. Boat Builders, Whidbey Island, Wash.: Located on an island in Puget Sound, Nichols Bros, can currently accommodate 430-ft. (131-m) vessels on-site. Its involvement with a local consortium known as the Evergreen State Shipbuilders will increase that capacity into the 500-ft. (152.4-m) range by utilizing modular construction methods.
Nichols and the consortium hope to exhibit their joint capabilities on the 468 ft. x 90 ft. (142.6 m x 27.4 m) Jumbo Mark II ferries and are aggressively pursuing that contract.
Completing the consortium triad are Dakota Creek Industries, Anacortes, Wash., and JM Martinac Shipbuilding Corp. of Tacoma, Wash.
Seventy-five percent of Nichols Bros.' work is new construction, with the majority of that in the passenger boat area: gaming and dinner boats, mini cruise ships, and fast-ferry catamarans. Most significant is its relationship with International Catamaran.
Nichols is currently working on its 21st custom-designed InCat hull, a boat featuring the new Z-bow design. Also underway is a SWATH-design gaming boat. According to Bryan Nichols, the gas turbine driven, all-aluminum hull is capable of 28-knot speeds.
A recently signed contract withl Yacht Ship Cruises in Seattle calls for a 230-ft. (70.1-m) mini cruise boat reminiscent of a Mississippi River sternwheeler with a working mechanical drive paddle. The ship will carry 154 passengers on overnight cruises along the Columbia River.
Five years ago Nichols Bros, added a yard in Portland, Oregon. That yard is currently building a 54- car ferry and split-hull hopper dredge.
Facility expansion is a priority. Matt Nichols, company president, expects the Washington yard to double in size in the next five years. Future plans include the design and marketing of a high-speed cargo ship utilizing a wave-piercing hull to produce a projected 40-knot speed cargo ship.
NASSCO, San Diego, Calif.: The largest shipyard on the U.S. West Coast, NASSCO is a full-service facility capable of handling vessels up to 1,000 ft. (304.8 m) long. NASSCO is currently handling three multiple- vessel Navy contracts: four 950- ft. (289.5-m) AOEs — one delivered, three in progress; three cargo vessel conversions to RoRo for Navy Sealift; and its latest contract, the construction of six, NASSCO-designed Navy Sealift vessels — one firm, five options. According NASSCO Vice President Fred Hallett, the lack of future military contracts means they will be competing for more commercial business than ever before. The wish-list of prospective projects includes hospital ships, ocean-going cruise ships, car carriers, and an increasing share of the double-hull tanker construction business.
Although primarily a repair and conversion yard, Todd is currently preparing a construction bid for the Jumbo Mark II ferries, a proposed $210-million, three-vessel project for the Washington State Ferry System Westport Shipyards, Westport, Wash.: This small yard owned by brothers Randy and Rick Rust is located on Washington's Pacific Coast in Grays Harbor. Originally catering to the commercial fishing and chartering industry, it now specializes in construction of fiberglass passenger vessels and pleasure yachts. Westport claims to have built more large (80 ft. [24.4 m] to 128 ft. [39 m]) fiberglass hulls than any other shipyard in the U.S.