Keel Laying event at US Workboats in Hubert, NC.

Photo: Tracy Gable of US Workboats and Harold Thomas, NCDOT Ferry  Division Director, discuss future Passenger Ferry construction phases.

This month NCDOT officials gathered at US Workboats (Formerly Armstrong Marine) in Hubert to celebrate the “Keel Laying” construction phase of the first NCDOT passenger ferry. According to Wikipedia, “Laying the keel or laying down is the formal recognition of the start of a ship's construction. It is often marked with a ceremony attended by dignitaries from the shipbuilding company and the ultimate owners of the ship. Keel laying is one of the four specially-celebrated events in the life of a ship; the others are launching, commissioning, and decommissioning.”

The 98-passenger catamaran-style ferry—built by US Workboats —will run between Hatteras and Silver Lake Harbor, allowing passengers to disembark in the heart of  Ocracoke Village. From there, visitors will be able to navigate the village on foot, bicycle or golf cart, or catch a new shuttle service that Hyde County will be providing in conjunction with the passenger ferry. The new ferry service will supplement the Ferry Division’s existing car ferries, and is designed to ease summer traffic congestion on the popular route.

Much of the project funding comes from a Federal Lands Access Program grant. The grant also covers infrastructure improvements at Hatteras and Ocracoke that will accommodate ferry passengers. JOED is pleased to have been part of this project, and will continue to provide updates as it progresses.