Hurricane Michael damage forces delay of new Staten Island Ferry boats

The delivery of new Staten Island Ferry boats will be delayed due to damage from deadly Hurricane Michael, which hammered the Florida Panhandle last week.

Eastern Shipbuilding, the Florida shipyard building two of the three new vessels for the city, was “devastated” by the storm, according to the city’s Department of Transportation. The first boat, the Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, is not expected to arrive in New York Harbor by the end of 2019, as originally scheduled, the department said Wednesday. 

“The first aerial photos from Panama City, where Eastern Shipbuilding is based, illustrate that neither of the ferries — the Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis and the Sandy Ground — appears damaged,” The DOT said in a statement. “However, our on-site representatives have confirmed that virtually every other structure in the shipyard was lost, either completely or partially. The shipyard has lost electricity, and many Eastern employees have lost their homes.”

The city had originally planned to phase the three new vessels into service between 2019 and 2020, at a cost of $250 million in city, state and federal funds, though a new timeline is not yet clear.

“We expect more specific detail about those delays in the weeks ahead,” the DOT continued, offering "thoughts and prayers to all the staff at Eastern Shipbuilding — as well as to the people of the Florida Panhandle recovering from this terrible storm."

The Hurricane has wreaked havoc in the southeast, killing at least 32 people across Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, CNN reported.

The two boats pay tribute to Michael Ollis, a 24-year-old Staten Island native who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2013, and Sandy Ground, one of the country’s first African-American settlements, located on the south shore of the borough.