State’s Win Is Nichols’ Loss

Golden Gate Ferries’ decision to buy two used boats from Washington State Ferries instead of having Nichols Bros. Ship Builders construct a new one has prompted the Whidbey Island shipyard to temporarily lay off 30 people. The move, which is expected to last for three months, reduces the company’s employees to 150.

Nichols was bidding to build a ferry for Golden Gate, but was notified early this week that it chose to buy used vessels Chinook and Snohomish from Washington state. A Nichols spokesman said the company isn’t having financial problems, and has two ferries and two tug boats on backlog.

Nichols filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2007 and was sold to Ice Floe LLC. It is a subcontractor of Todd Shipyard in building up to three 144-car ferries for the state and in a press release Thursday said it was also subcontracting with Todd for two Island Home ferries. Todd was the only bidder on the 64-car vessels. The state is trying to figure out what to do with the bid, which came in more than it had expected.