After 45 years of steady and reliable service to the people of Staten Island, the ferryboat Mary Murray has essentially been rusting in the Raritan River since it was decommissioned in 1982.
However it appears as though her days of sitting among the mud and brush are over as the boat's owners, the Searle family of East Brunswick, N.J., have agreed to start dismantling the vessel citing low-level environmental hazards along with other hurdles in maintaining the ship.
According to Bob Spiegel, executive director of the Edison Wetlands Association, the dismantling process is well under way and the ship will be taken apart for scrap metal.
His group was out with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection last week conducting a compliance inspection at the nearby Edgeboro Landfill when they noticed welders dismantling the Mary Murray for scrap metal. The work began about a month ago.
"It's sad to see anything that has such history go," Spiegel said. "If you look at all the pictures of her in her heyday, you can see she was beautiful."
Her departure, however, will open up lanes for recreational boating
Ted Costa, a retired ferry captain who piloted the Mary Murray in her prime, and a group of "other old salties" tried to stop the auction of the ferryboat when she was taken out of service, but to no avail. They had hoped to turn her into a floating Staten Island Ferry museum.
"She was an old beauty," he said. "Sitting at the helm was nothing like going to an office or sitting behind a desk. We saw all the old steamships. We saw beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We saw the skyline change. I miss those days."
This is a less-than-honorable end for the ship, whose owner, George Searle, a former merchant mariner, had plans on converting the ship into a floating restaurant of even a allowing the boat to sink and create an artificial reef. However steady deterioration put an end to each option, and with an expired permit to keep the vessel on the Raritan and the high cost of moving it, it looks as though the once-proud ship will be headed to the scrap heap.