Original MV Cape Henlopen participated in D-Day

June 7, 2022

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry has transported more than 45 million passengers across the Delaware Bay since its maiden voyage July 1, 1964. The MV Cape Henlopen, the fleet’s first motor vessel, was a converted naval vessel from World War II that participated in the D-Day invasion at Normandy as a landing craft. Built in 1943 by the Jeffersonville Boat and Machine Company in Jeffersonville, Ind., the vessel crossed the Atlantic to the United Kingdom in April 1944. Much like what was depicted in the Tom Hanks film “Greyhound,” the journey was harrowing, as the 64-ship convoy encountered poor weather conditions and unseen German U-boats that sank four ships. On June 6, 1944, the ship transported soldiers to Omaha Beach eight hours after the initial assault. The vessel returned to the U.S. in June 1945 to prepare for service in the Pacific, but Japan’s surrender canceled plans. The ship was placed out of commission in July 1946, sitting inactive until it was sold to the Chesapeake Bay Ferry District in Norfolk, Va., in 1960, and renamed MV Virginia Beach. Just a few years later, it was resold to Delaware River and Bay Authority and renamed MV Cape Henlopen. Cross Sound Ferry purchased the MV Cape Henlopen in 1983, and it continues to operate between New London, Conn., and Long Island, N.Y., today.


  • Delaware Cape Region History in Photographs, published every Tuesday in the Cape Gazette, features historical photos from Delaware's Cape Region - particularly - and from throughout Sussex County and Delaware generally.

    Readers are invited to submit photos of historic interest. They can be mailed to the Cape Gazette at PO Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958, or via email to

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