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Posted on: July 12, 2017

Christening of the Elizabeth River Ferry IV

HRT has added a brand-new ferry to its fleet

Hampton Roads Transit will officially welcome a new Ferry to its fleet on Friday, July 14. The public is invited to join HRT, the City of Norfolk, and the City of Portsmouth for an official Christening Ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Norfolk Waterside Dock.

HRT’s existing ferries are becoming too expensive to maintain. The James C. Echols, constructed in 1982, the Elizabeth River Ferry II, built in 1986, and the Elizabeth River Ferry III in 1990, are all requiring continual structural and mechanical repairs to keep them in compliance with United State Coast Guard regulations. The new ferry, Elizabeth River Ferry IV, is part of a $7 million contract to eventually replace the entire fleet of three.

In addition to greater fuel efficiency and a cleaner running set of Volvo engines, the new ferry has a “drive-by-wire” design that relies far more on electronics than its predecessors. Vessel captains have a bit more room in the pilothouse, while tinted windows help keep water glare to a minimum. 

The ferry is rated to carry 150 passengers and crew, like the existing ones, but it also has two-man hatches on the port and starboard sides that allow faster loading and unloading. The older ferries have one, and that’s a hassle during major events when the ferry must first unload all passengers and then load them up again.

“The Elizabeth River Ferry is the most convenient, enjoyable way to go from Downtown Norfolk to Olde Towne Portsmouth and beyond,” said William Harrell, president and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit. “We are excited to receive the new ferry boats and look forward to running the oldest continuous ferry service in the country.”
 
HRT will host a brief celebration and christening ceremony on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Norfolk Waterside Dock. Ferry service has surged in the last few months with over 67,000 riders in June, approximately 22,000 more riders than June of last year. Several elected officials from Norfolk and Portsmouth are scheduled to attend, including City Councilman Martin Thomas, Jr., Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe and Portsmouth City Manager Dr. Lydia Pettis Patton.

For more information, visit gohrt.com.