US Workboats building new ferry for North Carolina

US Workboats, Hubert, N.C., is building a new aluminum, 92’x26’x7′ passenger-only ferry for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The ferry will operate between Hatteras, N.C., and Ocracoke Island, a popular tourist destination located on the Outer Banks.

Shoaling over the past few decades has caused a real problem for the state’s ferry operations between Hatteras and Ocracoke Island and its popular Silver Lake destination. Currently, there are only passenger/vehicle ferries that operate on the route.

“The Corps [of Engineers]tried dredging Hatteras Inlet,” Jed Dixon, NC Transportation ferry division deputy director said at the Passenger Vessel Association’s Annual Convention in Savannah, Ga., this week. “The day they finished the project, we couldn’t run a ferry over it.”

Jed Dixon, State of North Carolina Ferry Division deputy director Ken Hocke photo

Jed Dixon, State of North Carolina Ferry Division deputy director Ken Hocke photo

The ferry route had to be altered, doubling in length from four miles to eight. “We went from 52 departures a day to 42, which had a huge impact on our service,” said Dixon. “The tourist numbers were down. People were having to wait two and a half hours to get to the island. We had to start thinking out of the box.”

That out of the box thinking resulted in plans for a new passenger-only ferry that would run a different, longer route than the car ferries, bringing passengers all the way to Silver Lake (25 miles) in 70 minutes. (Normally it’s a 30- minute drive from the Ocracoke ferry landing to Silver Lake.)

The $15 round trip for the passenger only ferry that will carry 99 at a time is expected to generate almost $1 million each season, Dixon said. “Part of the project was to see if we could get some of those cars off the road,” he said. “About 65% of the visitors are day trippers.

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About the author

Ken Hocke

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.


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    North Carolina is showing efficient thinking here. Unusual for any government. They did the same thing when Oregon Inlet shoaled closed several years ago., Where an Inlet, Little Egg, in New Jersey was closed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and it took New Jersey, the federal government and the Corps of Engineers over 5 years to deal with it, North Carolina and Dare County came up with a forever workable solution within a matter of a few months and were able to use existing funding sources to do the job.

    My kudoes to the people making decisions in North Carolina!

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      Peter Rasmussen on

      Ken – I rep a German company (PPS. Imaging, BmbH, Hamburg) that had a booth at WorkBoats Show in New Orleans. My contact is Kim Burnham. I have also been in contact with Ken Moore re an article about our off-shore protection vinyl film that was used on the hull etc. on all 19 the NYC / Hornblower ferry boats

      Question: Do you know the name of the Naval Architect & Engineer firm for NC ferry project? Alternatively, can you guide me to a source where I can get the info?


      Industrial Application

      370 East 76 Street – Suite A1001 – New York, NY 10021
      Tel: 917-690-6100

      • Avatar
        Christina Villiott on

        Peter – Elliott Bay Design Group is the naval architecture firm that completed the Contract Design. I will send you a separate email as follow-up.

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