Shipfitter Wes Helseth installs windows into the pilothouse for a 100 foot tug at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 in Freeland, Washington. Another pilothouse sits in the shipyard at right. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Shipfitter Wes Helseth installs windows into the pilothouse for a 100 foot tug at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 in Freeland, Washington. Another pilothouse sits in the shipyard at right. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Everett Ship Repair gets a $1.1 million federal grant for new crane

The facility was the prime contractor to fix the Cathlamet ferry that smashed into pilings in a $7.7 million crash in July.

EVERETT — An Everett business that fixes ferries, barges and other big boats is getting a big boost.

Everett Ship Repair was awarded over $1.1 million in a federal grant.

The money will help purchase a 140-ton telescopic crawler crane to expand repair services. The facility’s two drydocks are used by Washington State Ferries and other ferry systems, the fishing industry and to hold towing vessels during U.S. Coast Guard safety inspections.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, supported the over $2 million in grant funding for Everett Ship Repair and All American Marine in Bellingham from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration Assistance to Small Shipyards Grant Program, which helps shipyards modernize, increase productivity and create jobs.

“Small shipyards are the backbone of the State of Washington’s booming maritime economy. These smart investments will allow Everett Ship Repair to service more vessels — keeping barges, fishing, and other vessels moving,” Cantwell said in a statement.

Everett Ship Repair was the main contractor for the 124-car Cathlamet ferry after a dock collision on the Fauntleroy-Vashon Island route caused about $7.7 million in damage last July due to human error and a failure to follow protocol. The ferry returned to service in March, this time on the Edmonds-Kingston route.

Everett Ship Repair is a subsidiary of Ice Cap Holding and sibling company to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland on Whidbey Island.

Nichols Brothers received a$1.3 million federal grant in 2018 to help buy a crawler crane. The Freeland shipyard opened by Frank Nichols in 1964 was acquired by Ice Cap Holding in 2008.

Nichols Brothers has built six new superstructures for state ferries and assisted with the Cathlamet repairs. The pickle fork steel construction for the Cathlamet was fabricated at the Whidbey facility.

Bellingham’s All American Marine received a grant of over $900,000 for equipment upgrades. The company designs and manufactures aluminum vessels, including passenger ferries, government research vessels and other boats.

“Small shipyards drive Northwest Washington’s marine economy while serving two U.S. Navy bases, two U.S. Coast Guard facilities and the nation’s largest ferry system,” U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen said in a statement. “These federal investments will enable shipbuilders in Everett and Bellingham to boost productivity while continuing to create and support local jobs.”

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

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