August 09, 2021 by Nichols Boats

NBBB Delivers Second-In-Class Fast Ferry

FREELAND, Wash. – Ice Floe, LLC dba Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) has delivered the second of two 255-passenger-only ferries to Kitsap Transit of Bremerton, Washington.  Like the first-in-class-vessel the ENETAI, the COMMANDER out-performed design expectations during vessel trials, delivering to Kitsap Transit; a lighter, faster, and smoother riding vessel.

“They are the ‘Audi A8’ of passenger ferries, fast, smooth and quiet” noted Nick Zustiak, Director of Manufacturing at NBBB. “customer friendly, modern, reliable ferries is what the Pacific Northwest needs, and Kitsap Transit is making it happen! Although the builds of the ENETAI and COMMANDER were challenging during the pandemic the team pulled together and delivered high-quality vessels. Thank you, Kitsap Transit and Elliott Bay Design Group, for your support during the build and commissioning process”.

Kitsap Transit awarded a design and construction contract to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders for two new ferries in December 2018. NBBB partnered with BMT of Southampton, UK for vessel design.

The COMMANGER and ENETAI, are 140’ x 37’ x 12’ aluminum high-speed catamarans built to USCG subchapter K regulations. They are among the first ferries to feature a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust aftertreatment system powered by two MTU Tier IV 16V400M65L main engines each putting out 3435 HP @ 1,800rpm, through ZF 9050 gears, turning Kamewa S71-4 waterjets, reaching +38 knots at full load. 

Kitsap Transit’s design requirements included a bow-loading configuration allowing the vessels to utilize Washington State Ferries (WSF) existing Southworth car ferry dock for loading and unloading of passengers. With speed requirements of a minimum 35-knot cruising speed it allows for efficient route scheduling not to interfere with WSF’s existing schedule. Plus, passenger comfort and amenities are a priority for Kitsap Transit and their passengers.

During vessel trials the COMMANDER and the ENETAI exceeded 40 knots, bettering the speed expectations by 3-knots bringing up the vessels’ cruising speed to 38 knots at full load. The Naiad active ride control system ensured a smooth comfortable ride at the high-speed. The vessels display nimble maneuverability and superior responsiveness owing to its latest generation of waterjet drives and design emphasis on lightweight construction. 

In addition to the 255-passenger capacity, the vessel accommodates 26 bicycles, a must for Seattle commuters. Leisure and commuting passengers alike will appreciate the onboard amenities; an advanced heating and air conditioning system will keep passenger areas warm in the winter and cool in the summer, seats and tables are outfitted with outlets and USB ports for laptop and phone charging, and the vessel is equipped with high-speed wifi connectivity.

“The two Kitsap Transit ferries were built during the global COVID-19 pandemic, forcing NBBB to significantly re-arrange production to allow for safety protocols required to protect our workforce. Kitsap Transit was incredible to work with showing encouragement toward the safety of our people and operations,” said Gavin Higgins, NBBB CEO. “As the region returns to normalcy it is exciting and rewarding to see two new ferries built by NBBB operating right here in the pacific northwest.”

NBBB is the Northwest’s premiere custom boat builder with a diverse portfolio of new-build and repair projects.  NBBB’s portfolio can be viewed on the web at