Steamship Authority Ferries Experience Mechanical Glitches Twice in Two Days
Cancellations due to mechanical problems were announced twice this week by the Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority, creating headaches and delays for residents and tourists alike.
The latest inconvenience occurred Tuesday when a 9:30 a.m. Steamship Authority ferry heading from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, the M/V Martha's Vineyard, was cancelled due to a generator issue. The 10:45 return trip back to the mainland was also cancelled.
“The crew had an anomaly when testing the backup generator on board the vessel. Further testing showed nothing was amiss, so the boat has been cleared for travel,” a Steamship Authority spokesman told the Boston Globe.
That cancellation came one day after the M/V Katama, headed from Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole, was towed back to port Monday with 78 passengers and 29 vehicles on board. The vessel had experienced a steering problem. The Katama was repaired overnight. Earlier this month, the M/V Martha's Vineyard experienced other problems at least twice, according to the Steamship Authority's Twitter feed.
The delays come as the Steamship Authority works to overcome a public relations downturn after hundreds of trips were cancelled in 2018. At the time, many of the problems were blamed by the authority on vessels that had been serviced by Senesco Marine LLC, a Rhode Island-based contractor.
The M/V Martha's Vineyard that year emerged from a $18 million "mid-life overhaul" at the hands of Senesco. Subsequently, the vessel experienced more than 250 issues, the Globe reported. A public spat ensued, and Senesco Marine LLC issued a strong statement defending the quality of its work. About a year ago, the Steamship Authority and Senesco reached a settlement where the authority would pay $950,000 that it still owed Senesco, and Senesco promised to honor its warranties. A non-disparagement clause was reportedly part of the agreement.
The Steamship Authority last year also agreed to undergo a top-to-bottom audit of its operations. The report, issued earlier this year, offered both praise and constructive criticism suggesting ways to improve customer service. Since then, the authority has upped its public outreach and communication efforts.
The Steamship Authority, which links the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket with two terminals on Cape Cod, depends solely upon its own revenues to operate. It owns and runs its own vessels and also licenses private operators at its terminals.