Friday, December 11, 2015

Nichols Bros. Wins Expedition Ships Contract

By Mark Edward Nero

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders has signed agreements to build two US-flagged coastal vessels for expedition cruises and adventure travel company Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, Lindblad said Dec. 8.

The new 100-guest vessels are to be built at the Nichols Bros. shipyard on Whidbey Island in Washington State. The first ship is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2017, while the second is scheduled to for delivery in the second quarter of 2018.

The agreements are for Nichols Brothers to construct the two newbuild vessels at a purchase price of $48 million and $46.8 million, respectively, payable monthly based on the value of the work performed.

Jensen Maritime is serving as the naval architect on the project, with interior design work provided by Tillberg Design International. Construction of the vessels is expected to begin this month.

“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 US-flagged ships, the National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird,” Lindblad President and CEO Sven Lindblad said.

“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,” Lindblad added.

Some key features of the new vessels include:
• Fifty cabins, 22 with balconies and eight that can be configured into four adjoining cabins for families.
• A fleet of sea kayaks, paddle boards, and specially designed landing craft, all geared to get guests out and into the places being explored.
• A fully equipped fitness room and a wellness spa.
• State-of-the-art expedition technology, including a remotely operated vehicle, 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.

Lindblad had previously signed a non-binding letter of intent with Nichols Brothers for the newbuilds and paid a $4 million non-refundable slot fee during the third quarter of 2015 to reserve the shipyard’s capacity, which will be charged against the second vessel’s cost.