On a slow moving river lined with emerald-green marshes and Atlantic white cedar winding out of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, it’s a surprise to see a boat this big.

But there it is, all 109’x26’x6’ of her, the new 400-passenger ferry Molly Pitcher that will soon carry Wall Street workers from Belford on New Jersey’s Raritan Bay shore to New York City. Up in the big shed at Yank Marine Services in Tuckahoe, N.J., the sister ship Betsy Ross is still in bare aluminum, her hull welding to be complete next week.

The twin boats are the result of long collaboration between the customer, Anthony E. Imperatore’s NY Waterway, and shipyard founder John Yank. Imperatore boldly sought to revive the New Jersey-New York ferry industry in the mid-1980s, and in the years since the operator and shipyard have worked together to find out what really works.

“The design directive was that they wanted a simple boat,” said designer Michael LeMole of LeMole Naval Architecture, who has his office at the Yank yard. “They had gotten a lot of boats with a lot of (water) jets, so they knew what the maintenance was like, a big nut to swallow every year.

“The basics. Seating for 350, ticketing for 400. Twenty-eight knots loaded service speed. Draft was an issue, so we tunneled the bottom.”

That will help the Molly Pitcher and Betsy Ross in and out of the Belford terminal at Compton’s Creek when the channel shoals up, navigating the entrance with commercial fishermen neighbors and deep-draft draggers at the Belford Seafood Cooperative.

The job employed 46 workers at its peak, taking 19 months to complete Molly Pitcher, said project manager Aaron Duffy. Betsy Ross will be ready about three months ahead of schedule for delivery in late December, he said.

The $10.4 million NY Waterway contract is one of the biggest since Yank Marine started in 1969. “We build now 95% aluminum. All the workboats,” John Yank said.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.