To the Editor:
On behalf of the Steamship Authority, I would like to publicly thank Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling and his department for their swift and invaluable response to an engine room fire aboard the M/V Governor last Friday as the vessel was arriving in Vineyard Haven. One of three shipboard generators onboard the vessel had tripped offline. The chief engineer inspected the forward engine room, and immediately noticed smoke coming from the No. 2 generator. He grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher and extinguished the fire coming from the electrical end of the generator.
The vessel’s emergency generator immediately started once the No. 2 generator tripped offline, and the chief engineer activated the No. 1 generator as well, allowing the captain to maintain safe steerageway and maneuverability.
When the vessel arrived in Vineyard Haven, Chief Schilling and his department ensured that the fire was completely extinguished, checked out the engine room space more thoroughly, and cleared out the smoke with portable fans so that a preliminary damage assessment could be initiated. Chief Schilling and his department also checked the condition and well-being of the affected crew members for smoke inhalation before they were allowed to go back down to the forward engine room.
Because of the prompt and professional response of the Tisbury Fire Department, combined with the immediate action of Captain Paul Hennessy, Chief Engineer Sean Barkowsky, and Oiler Oscar Lopez on the M/V Governor to contain the fire and proceed to the Vineyard Haven dock, the Steamship Authority was fortunate to get through this incident with no personal injuries to any of the 87 passengers (79 adults, eight children) and seven crewmembers who were onboard the vessel, and damage from the fire was kept to a minimum.
So often we hear Island residents talk about how they rely on the SSA as their lifeline. They also should be aware that this lifeline in turn depends on the dedication and training of their fellow islanders, such as the members of the Tisbury Fire Department, who may be called upon at any time to help us at a moment’s notice, as they did this past Friday. We here at the SSA want to express our gratitude for the vital work they do for all of us.
Wayne C. Lamson, general manager