SSA Governor loses steering, strikes docked Martha’s Vineyard

The Governor and the Martha's Vineyard shown docked Wednesday afternoon. Courtesy Michael O'Rourke.

Updated 7:30 pm, Wednesday

Steamship Authority service was disrupted Wednesday afternoon following an accident that knocked the freight boat Governor and the vehicle ferry Martha’s Vineyard out of service at the same time.

At approximately 11:40 am, the Governor was approaching an empty slip at the Woods Hole terminal when the captain lost steering, according to a press release issued at 4 pm, causing an allision — the maritime term used when a moving vessel strikes a docked vessel — with the Martha’s Vineyard, which was docked in the adjacent slip.

The loss of steering was caused by a stalled engine as the captain was starting to reverse the bow engine on the double-ended ferry. The chief engineer was able to restart the bow engine, and the captain then proceeded into the slip.

Quick action by the crew of the Governor just prior to the collision prevented what could have been a much worse result, the SSA said. There were no injuries or vehicle damage, although there was minor damage to both vessels.

The Governor sustained some minor damage to the superstructure. Following a Coast Guard inspection, she resumed service that afternoon.

The Martha’s Vineyard sustained a 12-inch crack in the hull plate.

Steamship Authority general manager Wayne Lamson told The Times the plate was welded closed on both sides, and the Coast Guard inspected the repairs.

In an email received late Wednesday, Mr. Lamson said, “The M/V Martha’s Vineyard has been cleared to resume service, starting with her 7:30 pm scheduled departure from Woods Hole.”

Earlier in the day, the SSA put the Katama, its spare freight, into service, and was using the lift decks on the Island Home to help with the backlog of vehicles trying to depart Martha’s Vineyard late Wednesday.

Mr. Lamson praised the crew of the Governor: “The crew did a great job. They kind of saw this coming, and acted quickly to get people back from the bow and away from the impact area, so that probably helped as well. I received a couple of comments from people who were on the boat who said the crew did a great job of anticipating this and informing the passengers.”