Big new ferry arrives
The first of two new 28-car ferries arrived in Port Aransas today, Saturday, April 23.
The Charles W. Heald steamed into town via Lydia Ann Channel, making a westerly turn down the Corpus Christi Ship Channel before docking at the ferry landing on Mustang Island about 3:30 p.m.
Ferry Operations Manager Howard Gillespie and several other excited ferry personnel were on hand to greet the $6.4 million vessel.
The Heald won’t go into service right away. Ferry employees must undergo weeks of training before the vessel starts hauling cars back and forth across the channel, Gillespie said. An underwater survey of the boat’s hull also must be done to make sure it’s in good shape, he said.
The Heald is the largest ferry that Port Aransas has had. Each of the other six ferries in the fleet have 20-car capacities.
The other 28-car ferry coming to Port Aransas is the Michael W. Behrens. It’s expected to arrive in May or June, Gillespie said.
Both ferries were built in the Southwest Shipyard, in the Buffalo Bayou area of Houston. That’s where the Heald began its voyage to Port Aransas Friday morning.
A dedication ceremony for both ferries will be held at the ferry landing on June 24.
Gillespie said he expects both ferries to begin moving cars in late June or early July.