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Lake Michigan Carferry's SS Badger Out for the Season

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

August 3, 2023

SS Badger (Photo: Interlake Maritime Services)

SS Badger (Photo: Interlake Maritime Services)

A historic Great Lakes car and passenger ferry will be sidelined the rest of the season due to damages it suffered in July. Lake Michigan Carferry said Tuesday that the SS Badger's daily crossings between Ludington, Mich., and Manitowoc, Wis., have been suspended indefinitely.

“We have made the difficult, and unfortunately unavoidable, decision to suspend our daily crossings for the remainder of the season,” said Mark W. Barker, president of Ohio-based Interlake Maritime Services, parent company of the Lake Michigan Carferry. “This is not how we hoped our 70th season would end but we are fully committed to making the extensive repairs – and doing it the right way – so that we will be back better and stronger in 2024 to serve our loyal passengers and port communities.”

The 410-foot-long, coal-fired Badger—which can accommodate 600 passengers and 180 vehicles—began its sailing season on May 18 and was scheduled to run daily crossings until October 9 until a failure of the counterweight structure on the port side of the Badger’s ramp system occurred on July 21.

Underwater divers, marine construction contractors and an engineering firm were engaged, but over the last week, it became clear that the necessary repairs were extensive and would take months to clear the collapsed structure and erect a new one, Interlake said in a statement.

“While an amazing amount of work has been done in last 11 days and an incredible effort has been made by all of our employees and key partners on the Lakes, this is a very complicated process and one that will not be complete in time to resume service this season,” said Sara Spore, general manager of Lake Michigan Carferry. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and disruption in plans. We know that our passengers and our port communities of Ludington and Manitowoc rely on the Badger. We thank them for their support, patience and understanding as we tackle this unexpected and disappointing end to our season.”

The operator's reservation teams are issuing full refunds for passengers with reservations, Spore added.

The company said it is working to maintain employment for as many of its seasonal staff as possible in Ludington and through other opportunities in the Interlake family of companies.

Designated a National Historic Landmark, SS Badger was built in 1953 by Christy Corp. in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., for C&O Railway Co. It was acquired by Interlake in 2020.

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