NCDOT set to start Ocracoke Express ferry service

Written by Nick Blenkey
Ocracoke Express build midway through constructionwas picked up by US

Ocracoke Express [Image: NCDOT]

Hubert, N.C., based US Watercraft reports that the passenger ferry Ocracoke Express received its USCG Certificate of Inspection and will begin carrying passengers to Ocracoke Island for the North Carolina Department of Transportation on May 17, 2022.

That’s way later than its previouslyplanned May 2019 inaugural trip, that had been based on a delivery date promised by the original builder. US Watercraft, the commercial boatbuilding division of Waterline Systems, took over construction of the aluminum ferry midway through the project after the original builder closed its doors. Working closely with Bruce Marek, P.E., principal of Marek Yacht Design of Wilmington, N.C., construction was completed by US Watercraft’s team at its waterfront facility in Hubert.

The state-owned Ocracoke Express is a 92-foot catamaran-style passenger ferry featuring 96 interior seats, an upper deck with 26 additional seats, two wheelchair tie-downs, 16 bicycle racks, and a concession area. It will carry passengers from Hatteras, NC, to Silver Lake Harbor in Ocracoke Village and back; a trip of approximately 70 minutes each way.

“This launch represents a tremendous achievement by our experienced team,” says Randy Borges, managing director of Waterline Systems. “Everyone involved was extremely professional and quickly overcame the challenges of picking up a complicated project midstream. With a lot of enthusiasm and energy we made it our own, and we’re proud to deliver the high build quality expected by the NCDOT and its passengers.”

The vessel will be christened May 16 in a formal celebration that also kicks off the N.C. Ferry System’s 75th Anniversary celebration.

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