The Shah of Iran’s Boat and the Mary Murray

The Mary Murray was a 300 foot long Staten Island ferry ship built in 1937. The boat was declared surplus and in 1975 was sold at auction to George Searle. His plan was to turn her into a restaurant or a museum. The boat (named for Revolutionary war hero) was most likely going to be scrapped and the former US MArine didn’t want to see it happen. He had her docked in the Raritan River, where he and his family live below the shadow of exit 9 on the NJ Turnpike. For 6 years it remained in the middle of the river until he was forced by the state to moor her in what became known as No-Name Creek, a small tributary that runs into the river.

The ship soon fell into severe decay and by 1999 the state was concerned about the environmental impact of the mary Murray, possibly leaking oil, gas and other chemicals into the river. He signed an agreement with the state that would last 7 years, giving him more time to do something with the ship. The deal expired in 2006 and in 2007 the state was pushing Searle to do something with hulking wreck.

After two and a half decades of sitting lifeless and derelict, the ship was no longer in any condition to be towed away. Easily visible from the NJ Turnpike several hundred yards to the west it had became a local icon. An eyesore to many, it represented a piece of history to others. By now there was not much that one could do with her except cut her up for scrap metal.

According to this article in March 2008, the Mary Murray was to be dismantled. From other published reports, it has been cut up for scrap. Sitting next to the Mary Murray is a pleasure boat that alledgedly once belonged to the Shah of Iran.
Click here for a view of the MM from a satellite. You can see the MM in the upper right corner and the Shah of Iran boat next to it.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Adrian Fuller on June 25, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    Hi would like to remove Shahs boat who should i speak to,any ideas


  2. Posted by Matt on February 13, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Ironic how they decide to remove the Mary Murray,and didnt do anything to the “Shah of Iran’s” boat,i mean like atleast the Mary Murray had a owner,we dont even know who really owned the vessel supposed to be the Shahs pleasure boat,we dont even know if the vessels leaking Fuel and Chemicals in the water,it seems to be there for awhile and close to the shore line,i wouldnt be suprised if a sweeping gale camp through and either tipped the vessel onto the shore,or just started up the river,hit the bridge and severly damage the bridge,and cause the vessel to sink and be a major hazard to big bottomed boats,I dont know about anyone else but i think that its safer for a boat to have a watchful owner then no owner,or a supposed one who lives on the otherside of the world…..and the ship is just a target for spray painting,it already is practicaly.


  3. Posted by Josephine on May 18, 2009 at 11:09 AM


    I’m curious. Is the Mary Murphy still there? Can I contact someone to visit the boat? I want to do a self funded video documentary (self published) onboard. Many thanks for any input/direction.



    • Posted by lostinjersey on May 18, 2009 at 11:10 AM

      sadly it is gone, sold for scrap.


    • Posted by Matt on February 13, 2011 at 6:36 PM

      @Josephine sadly its sold for scrap and I dont think they would let you on anyway,they believe the ship is a hazard to anyone who gets on it and I dont think the owner Searle would really like the state to had evidence for it if something would of happened,and even more liability Bills to ruin whatever possibility of restoration could be done.


  4. Posted by Brian on March 18, 2009 at 11:58 AM

    The Mary Murray is very easy to get on. I’ve been on it about 7 times. I’ve taken friends on the for thrills and just took trips down to photo the inside and outside. The boat served a purpose in my life a few years ago when a bunch of friends and I went on mission to get aboard it and we did.


  5. Posted by Nick on March 6, 2009 at 7:40 PM

    I’ve actually had the opportunity to see this ferry close up. This was 1988 or 1989. At that time the ferry was there for 12-15 years.
    I was there with the owner, and for the life of me, I cannot remember his name. I use to drive the bus for the senior citizens center … it was a great source of gossip and local history. One of my regulars lived at the end of Schoolhouse Ln and knew the owner. She setup the meeting.

    Anyway, the trouble started when the Township wouldn’t allow a restaurant without a solid foundation. Then the idea was kicked around that people would board and they would float out to New Brunswick or Sayreville, but the logistics of making that happen was too difficult. Finally, a agreement was made that would make the ferry suitable for a restaurant in the eye of East Brunswick, but by that time the ferry needed too much repair, and Edgeboro landfill was in full swing. Edgeboro is no more then 1/2 miles away. The truck traffic, noise and stink was so bad, that the township was forced to by 10-12 houses along Weston Place which faced the dump. Needless to say, the ferry owner say little point in opening a restaurant near they dump. There was still the issue of getting a variance are getting the area rezoned for business. The township made it clear that no liquor licenses where available, as they where pretty stingy on those too.


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