A wave of activity for the SSA

Dredging, seawall repairs and the ferry shuffle.

A crew was dredging a slip at the Steamship Authority's Woods Hole terminal Thursday morning. - George Brennan

There’s a lot going on at the Steamship Authority’s ports both in Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven.

On Thursday morning in Woods Hole, crews from Burnham Associates were dredging a slip that’s often used by the M/V Governor, Robert Davis, general manager for the SSA, told The Times. The two-week project will remove shoaling that’s built up, and the spoils will be used to renourish a Falmouth beach, he said.

Ferry users have undoubtedly spotted a large crane at the Vineyard Haven terminal that’s working on the $350,000 reconstruction of the seawall. Robert B. Our of Harwich is working on the project, which is expected to take about six to eight weeks, Davis said. At times, the project may force SSA not to use one of the two slips, so freight schedules may have to be adjusted or boats may just have to wait their turn to unload passengers and freight, he said.

This week, SSA employees in administrative offices have been packing up their office supplies and personal effects to be moved into the new building on Palmer Avenue. The $12.7 million facility will be fully occupied by the end of next week, Davis said.

The agency’s accounting department has already moved into the third floor of the building, and this weekend the rest of the office staff will be moved in and will start work at the Palmer Avenue offices Monday morning, he said. Only the IT department will be left behind for a few days.

That means in about three weeks, the old terminal building will be coming down.

“There’s no wrecking ball, no implosion,” Davis said. Instead, the company will do a methodical take down that will take one or two days.

The photos and charts that adorned the lobby will be taken down, and a mural has already been put in storage for likely use once the new $43 million terminal opens about five years from now, Davis said. Work on reconfiguring the slips will come after the old terminal building is removed.

A temporary terminal building has been open and selling tickets since early December.

Follow the boat shuffle

This weekend, travelers and commuters will find themselves on some boats they don’t typically ride on.

The M/V Woods Hole will be out of service Friday and part of Saturday to undergo repairs in dry dock in New London, Conn., Davis said. The vessel, which has been filling in for M/V Island Home, developed a crack in its keel cooler, Davis said.

The Woods Hole leaves Friday morning at 2 am and is expected back for late to mid-afternoon trips on Saturday. In the meantime, commuters and travelers will squeeze into M/V Sankaty.

Once those repairs are done, the M/V Nantucket is being taken out of service temporarily to make a repair to the bearings in its hatch door, Davis said. The Sankaty will take its place in the rotation while those repairs are made. The Nantucket will be out of service 5 pm on Saturday  until 7:30 pm on Sunday, Feb. 11.

“We’ve been looking at occupancy and the weekend actually looked like a better time,” Davis said.

Runs on the M/V Katama were canceled on Wednesday and early Thursday for mechanical issues. “We recognized a problem with the steering control,” Davis said. The part was ordered, but failed to come with everything that was needed to make the repair, extending the ferry’s time on the sidelines. As of 11 am Thursday, the Katama was fixed and waiting for Coast Guard inspection, he said.

The M/V Martha’s Vineyard will return from its more than $17 million mid-life refurbishment March 3 to take the place of the M/V Nantucket, Davis said. But don’t expect a lot of fanfare when it returns.

“Right back to business,” he said. “That’s what it’s there for.”

The M/V Island Home is scheduled to return to its regular schedule March 23.