Contract goes to Island Express

The National Park Service has awarded Island Express Ferry Service in Beaufort the contract to provide passenger ferry service to the Cape Lookout area, including the lighthouse shown here, as well as all of Shackleford Banks, starting in 2014. (Cheryl Burke photo)

BEAUFORT — The National Park Service has awarded Island Express Ferry Service of 412 Front St. in Beaufort the contract to provide passenger ferry service to all of Shackleford Banks and the Cape Lookout area of South Core Banks, starting in 2014.

    The ferries will depart from Beaufort and the Cape Lookout Visitor Center in Harkers Island.

Cape Lookout Superintendent Pat Kenney said the NPS is very pleased to award Island Express Ferry Service the contract.

“We are looking forward to a long-term productive relationship for providing exemplary service to park visitors,” he said.

Local ferry operators, however, have said during public meetings on the NPS’s plans for the cape’s ferry service that they’re worried about how this change will impact their business; with one business holding a contract, only it will have the right to take passengers to and from the cape.

Captain George Aswad, managing owner of the Island Express Ferry Service, said they are very excited to be awarded the ferry contract.

“We are looking forward to providing park visitors with great service while facilitating visitor understanding and appreciation for the park,” he said. Island Express Ferry Service is a Beaufort-based company that has many years of experience in operating ferries and marine tours.

Meanwhile, Annette Mitchum, manager of Davis Shore Ferry Service in Davis, said the ferry operators knew this was coming.

“I hate it for the small ferries,” she said, “It’s basically putting them out of business. They say it’s to provide a better service, but it’s about control. NPS is getting a bigger piece of the pie.”

Mrs. Mitchum said that since her own service moves vehicles as well as passengers, it won’t be affected as much, because the NPS’s contracted service only moves passengers. However, she said this could change.

Ligh Ann Byrum, co-manager of Island Ferry Adventures in Beaufort, said she too thinks this is going to hurt a lot of the local ferries.

“I don’t think this consolidation is a good idea,” she said. “A lot of people are being put out of business and they won’t be able to take as many people over with one service as with all of them operating.”

Ms. Byrum said she hopes her own business will be open next year, but not being able to take people to Shackleford Banks, one of the cape’s main attractions, is going to hurt.

“We may run tours to some of the other barrier islands,” she said.

The NPS said in a press release it would like to especially acknowledge its partnership with Beaufort for providing the Beaufort Ferry Gateway; the gateway will be at the Beaufort Town Hall on Front Street.

Charlie Burgess, town manager, said the town staff is looking forward to having the NPS in town.

 “The ferries departing from Beaufort will provide long-term economic benefits to the town,” he said. The gateway will include a visitor information center in the Beaufort Town Hall with exhibits about the park. The NPS said it will also provide restrooms, accessible docks, outdoor exhibits and flexible parking arrangements for ferry passengers.

At the Harkers Island Visitor Center, the NPS is making progress on facility improvements.  These facilities include: accessible docks, a shade shelter, outdoor exhibits on the park and a ferry ticket booth.  Future planned improvements include increased parking and improved connections to the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center and the park’s picnic area.

Bill Rogerson, board chairman of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center, said having the ferries departing from Shell Point, in close proximity to the museum, will bring additional visitors to the museum which will significantly enhance its ability to share the heritage of the Down East communities.

The NPS requested proposals for the ferry service contract in February and bids for the contract were evaluated by an independent panel during July.  This panel determined that Island Express had the best overall proposal.  The panel’s recommendation for award of the contract was approved by NPS Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin on Sept. 30.

The NPS said the purpose of managing ferry service through a contract is to insure long-term continuity of the ferry service, a consistently high level of services that are specified and reviewed by the NPS and to help visitors understand the significances of the park.  Its decisions for managing ferry service, choosing a Ferry Gateway Departure Site, partnering with the Beaufort, and for establishing a service level for the ferry, were part of a series of planning efforts that provided multiple opportunities for public input since 2007.

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081 ext. 206, email; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

(16) comments


If I had a dollar for every sign, telling you what to do, from Beaufort Inlet to Drum Inlet I would be a rich man.


I've never heard anyone articulate the need for "federalizing" this access. I tend to doubt its constitutionality.


This is one of , if not the biggest 'sham's ' in recent times in Carteret County. I honestly cannot believe the citizens, and local lawyers are allowing a contract to be enforced allowing a monopoly??????? The constitution of the State of NC does not allow this, sec 34 of the above mentioned. (this is not even a close call,lol). ie: this contract has/will dis-enfranchise several local small players that will suffer financially. Allowing this crappers of a contract to continue is an obvious lack of awareness of the people. Please, anyone show me where this is legal, or should even be entertained ? Show me, or point me towards the law , where this is ok with the majority? For the betterment of 1 entity , the contract takes away from anyone else, (specifically those who were in compliance otherwise, prior to this travesty) , from competition ? IMO, This is so wrong on sooooo many levels that it should never have even been entertained. Love the new GOV for this one. (this is like importing seafood to the sea,lol). Eat it up people.


We all saw it coming...Well. it's here...We have officially been taken over again by the same entity as before.

How long do you think it will be before we not allowed to go their in our own boats?

This is a SHAM...

I encourage EVERYONE to take part in any legal obstruction of the waterways, landing areas, departure areas, advertising avenues or anything else used to allow this service to continue...

Use your voices, your vessels, and vehicles to hinder this service in any legal way possible...

If you decide to fish, let them go around you. If you need to park, do it in the spaces they want to take away from others. If you see someone getting in line, let them know you are offended by their presence. If you see a website you can comment on, please do it just like you were sitting at home with your hungry family. If you are at the Banks, and you see someone you know that rode the ferry, tell them to go home. They are not wanted here.

Bump this..This is totally unfair to everyone, and as usual, the locals get burnt while everyone else gets paid..


Draw attention to the displeasure this has brought to so many people.


If anyone has a problem with this, feel free to email me at but remember, once you email me, the email belongs to me, and I WILL SHARE ANYTHING I CHOOSE.

I ain't happy, and I ain't scared either....



I wish we could take back our seashore. We would be willing to let them have Hatteras, but we need to control our own state.

Can this done?

David Collins

DeadBolt, The Gov of N C had nothing to do with this. You need to talk with this guy.

National Park Service Director , Jonathan B Jarvis .

Good Luck

Land N' Sea Tours

Clammerhead is right. Soon, they won't allow other boats out there or will make you have to have a "special permit." Soon, I predict they won't allow alcohol consumption on "their shores." We moved our business to Florida this past Septemebr because all of our Bareboat rental customers got repeatedly harrassed. The green rangers don't even know or understand their job, what a bareboat rental is, or that Bareboat rentals are allowed to take people there with a guide or without us having any kind of special permit. Interestingly, here at Fort De Soto National Park, yacht charters do not need any "commercial use permits" and it's the SAME Dept. of the Interior, the same Federal Government. There is some corrupt stuff going on there.


If , in fact , the GOV had nothing to do with this, then it's NOT A LAW. ie: the term 'contract' is a legal tool which two or more parties enter into for a measure of gain , be it financial, or otherwise. The fact that there is a single contract eliminating multiple other entity's from even trying this operation is a MONOPOLY. The persons who accepted this contract ought to be ashamed to be involved in a scam. (and held responsible at a legal level, as their names are listed in writing). ie: you have a contract with specific duties, and for compensations then you have a defendant for the higher courts to prosecute.

That being said, if this is not a law, then all the other locals who want to continue to perform this activity for compensation , can do so without question.

At this point, without the people to stop this, or a team of lawyers taking legal action, my words are falling on deaf ears. Any of you who actually grew up in this area , and took a trip over to the mentioned areas , probably did so via a friend's boat, or family. There were never restrictions on whom you took, or if they compensated you with gas money. In point of fact, it was hard to spot a non-local on those beaches before 10 yrs ago, i suspect. (20-30 yrs ago, it was our little secret, and did just fine).

So, Francis , if one of these operators is fined by someone for competition, that makes it the GOV's responsibility for allowing the taxation through citation to go forward, thereby making it the State's business , and so on.

If not, then we're all just wasting ten mins on a keyboard.

I hardly think the NPS director out ranks the State Of NC's entire form of government? (or our state constitution for that matter).

Regardless of who the perp is , its ILLEGAL, by way of contract according to our state , and our government. (the contract exists , thats your means of compensation through legal channel's. )

ps... its all of us paying their salary anyhow, their not printing their paychecks without our tax money. [wink]


Some folks need to do some research, the National Park Service falls under the Federal Government, they could give a rats behind about your State constitution. What they'll do is no longer give permits to local tour operators to drop folks off on the Island. Once the cruise ships come in they will be the only game in town. Wait until they have total control of your health care, this here won't even be an issue. I'm from the government and I'm here to help!!!

David Collins

DeadBolt, You are getting close. The N P S is just that, National. Part of the Federal Government. The same Federal Govt. that wants to control our schools, banking and healthcare wants to control the Parks. With control of access, the seashore can be shut down for any reason at any time. Birds or turtles nesting, shut it down. This administration is all about total control and is not afraid to sue any state that gets in the way. The frog kissers and turtle huggers have aligned with the Govt. to make this happen. Rebuild the world according to their vision and those in power get their votes and donations.

This is a federal issue, not a state issue and was done by decree so good luck protesting. Don't blame the folks that won the contract, blame the ones that created the situation. You know that Govt. never leaves well enough alone, never has. With this in mind, realize that Govt has just created another reason to need Govt. It is a perpetual motion machine, the more they control, the more they are needed.



No one will do what you suggest, it takes some degree of courage to do as you stated. There is little of that here. Standing up for something is a foreign concept. As long as dancing with the stars and the beer holds out, nothing will be done.


Heck clammerhead, the same people who allow themselves to be pickpocketed (taxes), lied to (obamacare, Clinton, Obama et al), exploited at every turn by the governments (federal,state and local), won't do anything about this either. The new Obamacare will ruin healthcare and premiums are exploding, but don't look for much resistance from the sheeple. Like I said before, we have lost already. Soon we will be bent over the proverbial stump and greased. Or maybe no grease.




Francis, a contract implies a 2 party consent simply put, someone in our government, locally signed this POS contract with the named company that reaps all the benefit. (i'm simply saying, its probably going to take a shot at the highest court in NC to un-do this MONOPOLY).

@ carteretiscorrupt after 50 years of being greased up, as you put it, its painfully obvious that our 2 party system is corrupted, by both entities, if you haven't figured that out by now, you have blinders on. (or your simply leaning towards one of their views vs the other).

Your only way to stop this peacefully is at the ballot box. Stop voting for Democrats, and Republicans. Vote for anyone that has no party affiliation. If not, then i guess we all get what the majority accepts for the next few broken years. (heck, they cant do you any worse then these 2 parties have ,lol).

ps.. this was not an article about healthcare , and yes our healthcare system was broken, and i hardly think either party can fix it. As a country , we're ranked like 38th in the entire world in terms of healthcare. If this is your dazzling argument as a 'SUPERPOWER' , your wasting your breath, and 5 minutes. Good Luck, and God Speed........

David Collins

DeadBolt, Go to George Aswad and ask him who from Govt. signed the contract. Heck, he might be following these posts and give out the name. How about it George ?

Big Fat Drunk Republican

Deadbolt is right.

Both parties are the problem, neither have the people in mind. Big Biz owns Repubs and Dems. The local Gov nor State is not going stop this, what the state and local gov can do is fight to give local captains and boaters the ability to use the shoreline at both Shack and Lookout.

Don't lose the war and the small battles. Often we see people fight and lose the entire pie instead of taking a piece.

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