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SS Badger Upgrades Into 21st Century

Badger enters Ludington harbor.
Badger enters Ludington harbor.
Lake Michigan Carferry

After decades of emptying its coal ash into Lake Michigan, creating hews and cries amongst both environmentalists and the EPA, the SS Badger car ferry, running between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin each summer, is getting a much-anticipated, and needed, upgrade to its propulsion system.

The EPA cited the ferry service for dumping coal ash into the lake, so the service has come up with a partial solution as it looks to create a permanent fix by 2015's season. At one time the Lake Michigan Car Ferry Service was exploring the possibility of converting the ship to natural gas. However, to meet the EPA's timeline, it decided to stick with coal and make its impact footprint on the environment smaller.

The installation of the first phase of the new combustion control component of the multi-million dollar ash retention system aboard the S.S. Badger is underway and will be completed before the start of the 2014 sailing season on May 16. Lake Michigan Carferry (LMC) is announced that pre-season discounts are once again available.

Lake Michigan Carferry management said it is committed to providing the lowest fares for cross-lake ferry service on Lake Michigan. For the second year in a row, passengers can take advantage of special pre-season roll-back pricing. LMC's adult one way fare is only $65. For a limited time, two adults and your auto can travel one way for only $199.These roll-back specials will only be available through May 16, which is the first day of sailing for the 2014 season.

The Historic SS Badger has been undergoing major changes during the off-season to come into compliance with the consent decree that will ultimately end the discharge of ash by the start of the 2015 sailing season. A sophisticated combustion control system is being installed and is the first phase of a multi-million dollar ash retention system. The second phase will be completed during the winter of 2014 - 2015.

According to Chuck Leonard, Vice President of Navigation for LMC, "This technology has never been executed on a coal-fired steam ship. The new combustion system will allow the ship to be more efficient - burning less coal and generating less ash."

The Badger's Chief Engineer, Charles Cart, added that "researching, designing and implementing new combustion controls is an involved process. Removing the old equipment and installing the new in the course of our brief off-season while continuing the cycle of maintenance to the machinery, hull and appearance of a ship is a major challenge. Accomplishing all of this over an unusually hard winter demonstrates the high level of personal dedication and community involvement typical of our crew and supporting contractors here in Ludington."

To better accommodate the needs of their passengers, LMC has also adjusted the sailing schedule this season. An earlier daily departure time of 8:30 a.m. from Ludington will allow extra time for passengers to experience attractions in Manitowoc, WI., and also get them on their way to their final destination sooner.

Since the S.S. Badger's maiden voyage in 1953 she has created memories for millions of travelers. The S.S. Badger is the largest carferry ever to sail Lake Michigan, providing a fun, reliable and affordable shortcut across the huge inland sea for more than 60 years.

For information and reservations, go to, or call 800-841-4243.

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