Cape May ferry gets an overhaul

With more than 40 years and close to 100,000 operating hours, the engines on the Delaware River and Bay Authority’s (DRBA) Delaware were ready for retirement.

The Delaware sits at Caddell Dry Dock in Staten Island, N.Y. Dale DuPont photo.So the 301’x68’x16.5’ ferry is now being repowered at Caddell Drydock & Repair Co. Inc., Staten Island, N.Y. The other two vessels in the Cape May (N.J.) – Lewes (Del.) ferry fleet – the New Jersey and the Cape Henlopen – will get new engines within the next five years.

A fourth ferry, the Twin Capes, which was declared surplus property in July 2010, is still waiting at the Cape May ferry terminal for a buyer or perhaps a trip to the breakers.

Built in 1974 at Todd Shipyards in Texas, the Delaware is receiving two EMD 8-710G7C-T3 engines rated at 2,000 hp each at 900 rpm. They replace Fairbanks Morse 38D8-1/8 engines each rated at 2,060 hp at 750 rpm, which were overhauled and rebuilt every 10,000 hours, DRBA said. The new EMDs, purchased from Marine Systems Inc. for $1.8 million, can go 30,000 hours. The DRBA got a $970,000 Diesel Emission Reduction Act grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to help with the project.

The Tier 3 engines are expected to reduce emissions by nearly 40% and save about $130,000 in maintenance costs. The engines can also be converted to operate on natural gas. That feature “gives us flexibility,” said DRBA spokesman Jim Salmon. “It will depend on the price of fuel.”

The $3.5 million drydocking also includes a new gray water recovery system, propeller shaft seal system, stainless steel railings and a bowthruster system overhaul.

The Delaware is due back in service in April 2016.

The Twin Capes, however, will not be put back into service – at least not by DRBA. “We’re close to a decision” about its fate, Salmon said. 05.07.15 TwinCapesThe Twin Capes is for sale and may be scrapped. Dale DuPont photo.“Scrapping is an option.”

The 320’x68’ double ender, also built by Todd in 1974, operated summers only through 2013 on the 17-mile crossing between Delaware and Cape May.

They had some interest six months ago but no takers. The most recent appraisal was $3.3 million — down from $5.5 million in 2012.

There’s probably room to negotiate.

About the author

Dale K. DuPont

Dale DuPont has been a correspondent for WorkBoat since 1998. She has worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Texas, Maryland, and most recently as a business writer and editor at The Miami Herald, covering the cruise, marine and other industries. She and her husband once owned a weekly newspaper in Cooperstown, N.Y., across the alley from the Baseball Hall of Fame. A South Florida resident, she enjoys sailing on Biscayne Bay, except in hurricane season.

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