News & Reviews News Wire S.S. Badger awarded grant from U.S. Department of Transportation

S.S. Badger awarded grant from U.S. Department of Transportation

By | September 23, 2023

$600,000 to contribute towards zero-emission feasibility analysis for coal-fired ferry

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

Large ship. S.S. Badger awarded USDOT grant.
The S.S. Badger takes on cars and passengers at Ludington, Mich., in August 2020. The new grant funds will help study the boats potential conversion from coal firing. The Badger’s 2023 sailing season was cut short when the counterweight system on the Ludington, Mich., dock failed on July 21. David Lassen

LUDINGTON, Mich. — The historic Great Lakes car ferry, S.S. Badger will receive a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD).

The contribution will go towards an ongoing feasibility analysis to convert the coal-fired steamship into a zero-emission ferry vessel, according to the DOT press release on Sept. 21, 2023. “The project will facilitate the safe, sustainable, and efficient transfer movement of three types of freight: traditional semi-trailers, oversize loads, and project cargo,” as stated in the release. “The service offers customers a more economical and efficient transportation route which allows truckers to avoid a 350-mile trip through Chicago on the heavily congested I-90.”

In service since 1953, the Badger is the last remnant of railcar ferries on the Great Lakes. The former Chesapeake & Ohio vessel is owned and operated by Lake Michigan Carferry, as a subsidiary of Interlake Holding Co., and provides daily crossings seasonally between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis. The vessel can carrying 600 passengers and up to 180 vehicles per trip.

The 2023 season which would’ve gone into October was suspended in August due to a failure of the counterweight system on the Badger’s loading ramp in Ludington on July 21 [See “S.S. Badger season ended by loading-ramp failure,” News Wire, Aug. 2, 2023].

14 thoughts on “S.S. Badger awarded grant from U.S. Department of Transportation

  1. Nothing’s getting converted. This is $600K of our money for an “ongoing feasibility analysis.” Translation: somebody’s buddy is getting a favor returned. If the group overseeing the Badger gets one-tenth of the largesse to fix what ails her then maybe something positive will come of it.

  2. How about they consider converting the Spartan, but leave the Badger alone? I thought the Badger was on the National Register of Historic Places… how can such butchery be allowed?

    1. May I remind thee eco-nuts that historic steam locomotives are grandfathered in. Why not this boat also?

      Time was there were hundreds of coal-powered boats on the Great Lakes, countless thousands of coal-powered ships on the seas, tens of thousands of steam locomotives, with no control of particulate emissions, the ships and the boats dumping their coal ash into the water. The earth survived.

    2. Funny how that all worked out isn’t it, Charles? Why the envirowackos are so concerned about one ship that uses a small amount of coal to safely and economically deliver goods and people across Lake Michigan defies logic. If they convert this ship to something else, this country will suffer another loss.

      There was a coal fired museum boat in the Mystic Seaport collection that did short excursions from the museum. Once the enviros convinced the museum to convert it to some form of fuel other than coal (or oil) it lost all attraction to many. I no longer care to ride it.

  3. The $600,000 could be spent on something more useful and productive. There is no real reason why the ship needs to be converted from the historic coal-burning treasure that she is.

  4. Several entities over the years have tried to look at alternate means of transport across Lake Michigan. Some closer to Chicago and others farther north. All of them cannot generate sufficient revenue to recover the costs involved.

    The fares would have to be so high as to be uneconomic.

    I have had various people around the country ask “why is it so difficult?” and I tell them that it can’t be done privately, it would require an annual subsidy like Chicago’s Metra gets from the state and Feds. To replace the boat itself would cost hundreds of millions.

  5. It is a grand ship. I have fond memories of my families trip in ’63 from Milwaukee to Ludington. The simlest solution might be like the Grand Canyon RR and butn reclaimed cooking oil. Still emits CO2 but don’t we all

  6. Sounds like a waste of $600 grand. Convert to oil from coal sounds reasonable, say low sulfur. What else? Battery, hydrogen, wind power, stored natural gas, lots of squirrels in rotary cages?
    Can’t wait to see the outcome of this study in, what, 2 years or so.

    Have they fixed the dock problem?

    1. All you need to do is research the MV Glen Sanox and her sister ship TRYING to be built in Scotland to see the waste of money this gets you. Years over due and double +++ the cost and no shortage of government interference.
      And that’s from new retrofitting the Badger will probably be an even bigger problem.

    2. Convert her to nuclear propulsion. The USN’s been doing that for years. I’d volunteer to run the plant but I have a lot of friends and former colleagues who would want it more than myself.

You must login to submit a comment