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Oyster Farm Support Vessel Now in Production

Matheson Oyster Co., a sustainable oyster farm located in Virginia, came to US Watercraft with a specific request: build a low-freeboard vessel that can hold position safely and travel quickly in the choppy waters of Chesapeake Bay. The result is our new 26-foot aquaculture support vessel.

US Watercraft’s design is the result of a series of fascinating conversations with the Matheson Oyster crew, where we learned about their innovative farming methods. Matheson oysters are grown in baskets on an adjustable longline system in the Chesapeake Bay, in waters up to five feet deep. The 50-pound baskets are currently retrieved and loaded onto a support vessel by a crew member in the water. This requires the crew to lift the baskets over the boat’s gunnels and lower them into the cockpit. The new USW boat is equipped with a powerful electric davit, flush deck, and 12-inch freeboard that will allow the crew to winch up the baskets and slide them on deck quickly, safely, and efficiently. The deck is also equipped with a series of removable guard rails that store out of the way during harvest and are easily replaced to secure the baskets (and serve as hand holds for the crew) while underway.

Returning to shore quickly is essential to retaining freshness. To facilitate this process, US Watercraft designed the hull with a 5° V and tapered bow to promote planning even in choppy conditions. With its 26’ LOA and 8’6” beam, the boat is easily trailered while fully loaded, ensuring a fast return to the Matheson Oyster Co. processing facility where the oysters are transferred to a refrigerated area.

The boat is currently under construction and after launching will run year-round on Chesapeake Bay. Learn more about Matheson Oyster Co. 

US Waterccraft Oyster Boat

Ocracoke Express Passenger Ferry Launched 

US Watercraft is proud to announce that the passenger ferry Ocracoke Express received its USCG Certificate of Inspection and is now carrying passengers to Ocracoke Island for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
     The state-owned Ocracoke Express is a 92-foot catamaran-style passenger ferry featuring 96 interior seats, an upper deck with 26 additional seats, two wheelchair tie-downs, 16 bicycle racks, and a concession area. It carries passengers from Hatteras, NC, to Silver Lake Harbor in Ocracoke Village and back; a trip of approximately 70 minutes each way.
     US Watercraft, the commercial boatbuilding division of Waterline Systems, took over construction of the aluminum ferry midway through the project after the original builder closed its doors. Working closely with Bruce Marek, P.E., principal of Marek Yacht Design of Wilmington, NC, construction was completed by US Watercraft’s team at its waterfront facility in Hubert, NC.
     “This launch represents a tremendous achievement by our experienced team,” says Randy Borges, Managing Director of Waterline Systems. “Everyone involved was extremely professional and quickly overcame the challenges of picking up a complicated project mid-stream. With a lot of enthusiasm and energy we made it our own, and we’re proud to deliver the high build quality expected by the NCDOT and its passengers.”
     The vessel was christened May 16 in a formal celebration that also kicked off the N.C. Ferry System’s 75th Anniversary celebration.

Ocracoke Ferry
Ocracoke Express Ferry


US Watercraft
270 Hogans Road
Hubert, North Carolina 28539