Artist’s rendering of new river class ferries the N.C. Ferry Division is building for delivery in 2020. Graphic courtesy of the N.C. Ferry Division

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division has awarded a contract to Gulf Island Shipyards of Houma, Louisiana, for the construction of two new river-class vehicle ferries.

The two ferries, tentatively named the M/V Avon and the M/V Salvo and to be delivered in 2020, will cost a total of $22.85 million and will be paid for from the Ferry Division’s Vessel Replacement Fund.

Each will carry 40 vehicles and will replace the smaller Hatteras-class ferries M/V Kinnakeet and the M/V Chicamacomico.

“These two new boats, along with the two others already under construction, will both increase our capacity and upgrade our technology,” said Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas. “The new ferries mark a major step in improving and modernizing the North Carolina Ferry System.”

The two boats will be able to run on any of the routes except the Pamlico Sound routes, said Tim Hass, Ferry Division spokesman. Which boat goes where is still to be determined, but the most likely scenario is that one will go to Hatteras and one will go to Cherry Branch.

“Under the provisions of the Vessel Replacement Fund, the Ferry Division is required to retire the Chico and the Kinnakeet once we have their replacements,” he said. “We will, however, likely hang on to them for a few months until their next credited dry docks are due.”

The North Carolina Ferry System is the second-largest state-run ferry system in the United States, operating 21 boats on seven regular routes across five bodies of water.

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