Passenger Ferry Delay Expected

Updated 22 weeks ago Sundae Horn
Passenger Ferry Delay Expected

Fast-breaking news: the Ocracoke rumor mill was going strong today!

The coconut telegraph (a.k.a. Facebook) was buzzing this morning with the news that the passenger ferry didn't pass its welding tests and can't be welded further and won't be here to carry passengers this season and we won't need the trams and it was all a bad idea anyway and the sky is falling. 

After a couple of hours of me and Current staff writer Crystal Canterbury bugging the powers that be (Tim Hass and Jed Dixon at the Ferry Division, county commissioner Tom Pahl, Hyde County public information officer Donnie Shumate) we finally heard back from Tim Hass, who sent this official statement:

"The NC Ferry Division has been made aware of construction challenges with the passenger ferry. In an effort to fully understand the issues that are keeping the builder from completing the vessel, the Ferry Division has been on-site multiple times in the past two weeks and has embedded a contractor on-site to monitor and provide quality control and assurance. 

While it will take some time before we know if this increased oversight is having the desired result, the Ferry Division at this time does not believe the vessel will be in commission by May 1. Once a full mitigation plan has been received and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Ferry Division should be able to tell the local stakeholders of the anticipated delivery date."

This isn't the first time that the new boat's builder, U.S. Boatworks, has caused delays for the Ferry Division. (See this article from October 2018 for more information.) U.S. Boatworks stated last year that finding qualified marine welders was difficult. The situation reminds me of the famous John Glenn quote: "I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract." Today's news is disappointing and no doubt frustrating to the Ferry Division and county officials who share a mission to increase visitation to Ocracoke via the passenger ferry. 

The Ocracoke peeps who first shared the news claim to have heard from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard that  Hyde County is going to lease a passenger ferry to operate this season. Others say the new docks at Hatteras, built to accommodate a passenger ferry, won't. The Current can neither confirm or deny these reports, but we have asked the questions and will update this story as we hear more. 

UPDATE: Today (Tuesday, March 12), Tim Hass replied to my email and wrote, "I hadn’t heard anything about the docks not being suitable, but I had to wait to double check with our project manager to make sure. He says the docks are fine. They will indeed fit the passenger ferry, no concerns."

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure this topic will come up at the OCBA Civic Affairs meeting on Wednesday night at 6pm at the Community Center. See you there! 

UPDATE: No, it won't! A new agenda for the Civic Affairs meeting came out this morning: 

The updated agenda for OCBA Civic Affairs Meeting tomorrow is below:   

  • Ferry Division Update - Postponed*
  • Kris Noble (Hyde County)
  • Ed Fuller (National Park Service)
  • Mandi Cochran (Child Care Center)
  • Scott Bradley (Community Square)
  • Joseph Ramunni (Ocracoke tram) - Postponed*

*Unable to attend 

 

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