Marine Log

September 14, 2006

Ferry operator defies Coast Guard

The Coast Guard issued a press release yesterday urging Virginia and Maryland users of White's Ferry in Montgomery County to seek alternate travel routes after the ferry's Certificate of Inspection was revoked due to vessel safety concerns.

"The vessel will be closed to all passenger service pending a Coast Guard investigation," said the statement.

However, local NBC station NBC4 has been reporting Malcom Brown, one of the ferry's owners, as saying that the boat is still running despite the Coast Guard's order. He reportedly says that the Coast Guard has overstepped its bounds and that the ferry will continue to operate until it gets a court order.

According to NBC4, the Coast Guard revoked the 24-car ferry's certificate of inspection because it was using an unlicensed operator and due to safety concerns. Coast Guard officers boarded the ferry and revoked its certification Wednesday.

The ferry is the last of some 100 ferries that once crossed the Potomac and has a history going back to 1828. It links White's Ferry road in Loudoun County, Virginia with a road by the same name in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The current vessel is a steel barge called the Jubal A. Early that follows a steel cable and makes the crossing in a few minutes. It is pushed by a diesel tug called Early's Aid.