Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB), Freeland, Wash., is building four new 90-ton bollard pull tractor tugs for Foss Maritime, Seattle. The contract has an option for six additional tugs and marks the first agreement between the two companies.

Foss has selected a design by Jensen Maritime Consultants, Seattle. The 6,866-hp, 100'x 40' Z-drive tractor tugs will be built to Coast Guard Subchapter M regulatory standards, with ABS loadline certification, and UWILD notation.

Main propulsion will come from two Tier 4 MTU series 4000 main engines connected to Rolls-Royce US255 azimuth thrusters. The tugs will also use Markey winches on deck.

Foss plans for the vessels to operate on the West Coast, performing ship-handling duties within ports and harbors. The vessels will be equipped with condition-based monitoring for the Z-drives and main engines.

The first four vessels will be delivered beginning winter 2020 through winter 2021. NBBB will implement a new production line to improve efficiencies to meet the accelerated four-boat order.

“Nichols Brothers Boat Builders is excited that Foss Maritime has chosen our shipyard to build their new tugs in this important program,” Tor Hovig, NBBB vice president of sales and customer relations, said in a prepared statement announcing the contract. “This is the first contract we have had with Foss, and it allows us the opportunity to work with one of the most respected players in the U.S. tug and workboat industry. With the series of vessels included in this program, we look forward to working with Foss for a long time ahead.”

NBBB has over 50 years’ experience in vessel construction, repair and conversion and an extensive portfolio of tug construction, the company said.


Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.