Hyde County Manager Kris Noble christening the M/V Rodanthe.

Hyde County Manager Kris Noble christening the M/V Rodanthe.

The Motor Vessel Rodanthe, the North Carolina Ferry System’s first new vehicle ferry in seven years, was christened June 28 at a ceremony in Hatteras. The event also included a celebration of the Ocracoke Express Passenger Ferry’s inaugural season, which began May 20 and has already served more than 10,000 passengers.

            “These two vessels represent the Ferry Division’s commitment to safe, reliable, affordable transportation between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands,” said Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas. “Whether in vehicles or as pedestrians, residents and visitors here can depend on us to get them where they’re going.”

            The Rodanthe, a river-class ferry that holds up to 40 vehicles, has several built-in improvements over older ferries, including a deck-level passenger lounge, interior restrooms and a redesigned hull built to reduce the amount of water that washes over the deck in rough seas. It was built by Bollinger Shipyard in Amelia, LA.

            The Ferry System also celebrated the first season of the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry service. The ferry shuttles passengers directly between Hatteras and Ocracoke Villages, allowing people to explore Ocracoke by foot, on bikes or golf carts, or by using a free tram service operated by Hyde County. The new passenger ferry service was partially funded by a grant from the Federal Lands Access Management Program.

            The launch of the passenger ferry service came about thanks to a partnership between the state Ferry Division, the National Park Service and the Coast Guard, as well as Hyde and Dare Counties, and the state legislature.   

            “I could not be more proud of our team,” said Julie White, deputy secretary of Multi-Modal Transportation for NCDOT. “In just 45 days, the team identified a vessel and negotiated a lease, tested the route, put in channel markers with the U.S. Coast Guard, developed an online ticketing and reservations system, trained employees, made shoreside improvements, and launched a new transportation service.”

            Friday’s christening of the Rodanthe marks the Ferry System’s first new vehicle ferry since the M/V Sea Level was christened in May 2012. Two more vehicle ferries are currently under construction and are expected to be delivered in 2020.

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