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By Peter Vankevich
Required maintenance of the ferry fleet has been responsible for several recent cancellations of scheduled ferry runs.
“We run everything we have all summer long, and when the peak season ends we do required maintenance on many of those boats so that we can run a full schedule again next summer,” said Tim Hass, NCDOT Ferry Division information officer.
There has not been a spare boat on the sound or Hatteras runs. So even something routine like an oil change, turns into a missed run, he added.
Hass did note that help is on the way at Hatteras as the M/V Lupton will be back today (Tuesday) to serve as a spare boat there. “Hopefully, getting the Lupton back to Hatteras will help solve that problem,” he said.
Apart from the maintenance/mechanical issues at Hatteras Inlet, the M/V Sea Level bumped the bottom in Bigfoot Slough last week and damaged a propeller.
“We are working with the Army Corps of Engineers to get some badly-needed dredging there,” Hass said. “We also briefed Senator (Richard) Burr on this issue when he was here last week.”
At last night’s Ocracoke Waterways Commission meeting, Jim Medlock of the Army Corps of Engineers said Bigfoot is scheduled to undergo pipeline dredging in January of February.
Also yesterday, the Ferry Division announced that a new river-class boat will replace the retiring M/V Baum. The goal is to eventually replace all the Hatteras-class boats (26 vehicle-capacity) with river-class boats to help increase capacity with the same number of boats and trips.