After second day of troubles, Island Home returns to service

There's a dark cloud over the MV Island Home as it loads in Woods Hole after missing two morning crossings Thursday. - Josephine Brennan

Updated 9:50 am June 28

The on again, off again MV Island Home ferry is back in service after missing two morning runs Thursday morning. The Thursday morning runs were cancelled due to mechanical issues, according to alerts issued by the Steamship Authority. 

Thursday’s alert came well after the 6 am trip should have departed and just a short time after the 7 am from Vineyard Haven should have left port, except the Island Home was in Woods Hole.

In an email to The Times, Sean Driscoll, the SSA spokesman, wrote that the issue had to do with a starter of the ferry’s emergency generator. He said the ferry service would be issuing a statement soon.

“This morning, the chief engineer on board the MV Island Home identified a malfunction in the starter for the vessel’s emergency generator, likely caused by the repeated attempts to start the generator Wednesday following the malfunction in the relay,” Driscoll wrote.  “The starter needed to be replaced, necessitating the cancelation of the 6 a.m. departure from Woods Hole and the 7 am departure from Vineyard Haven. The repairs have been completed and the vessel made its 8:15 am departure from Woods Hole as scheduled.”

This comes after an up and down day Wednesday when a morning run from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven was cancelled because of a generator issue.

On Wednesday, Coast Guard spokesman Nathan Mendes told The Times it was an emergency diesel generator that “went down,” and the SSA voluntarily took the ferry out of service.

“During a routine and required test of the emergency generator on board the M/V Island Home prior to its 10:45 am trip from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, a relay failed to perform as expected, and the emergency generator did not automatically activate,” according to an email issued by spokesman Sean Driscoll. “The relay required repair, so the passengers were removed from the Island Home and loaded on board the MV Nantucket for its 11:05 am scheduled departure to Oak Bluffs. The Island Home’s 10:45 am trip and noon trip have been canceled while repairs are underway. The MV Sankaty will run an extra trip, departing at 2 pm from Woods Hole and 3:15 pm from Vineyard Haven, to accommodate the vehicles that were unable to be loaded onto the Island Home.”

In a follow-up email at 2:15 Wednesday, Driscoll wrote that the U.S. Coast Guard was allowing the Island Home to make its subsequent trips with “both its primary generators activated to allow for a proper safety backup. Additionally, SSA personnel will be stationed at the backup generator to manually activate it should it become necessary during the voyage.”

The Island Home made its 1:15 pm trip at about 2:30 pm from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven, Driscoll wrote, “and it is expected that the boat will make up the time during the rest of its runs.”

Standby reopened in Woods Hole Wednesday, and the MV Sankaty helped to move vehicles that were delayed as a result of the missed crossings. An additional crew was brought in so that the Sankaty could provide unscheduled service Wednesday afternoon and evening, Driscoll wrote.

According to The Times employee, on Wednesday morning people were allowed to board the Island Home in Woods Hole, and then were told to get off again. Many of the passengers boarded the MV Nantucket, which took them to Oak Bluffs.

For several hours, there was no official word from the Steamship Authority, except on its webpage.

This comes just days before the busy Fourth of July week on-Island. It also comes after the Steamship Authority hired a private firm to look into repeated issues with the ferries, including mechanical breakdowns.

Updated after the Island Home returned to service.  -Ed.



  1. It’s time to start the planning for the bridge or the tunnel. Either one would solve all these problems.

  2. SSA continues to compound mechanical problems with inexcusable lack of communication. Dozens of passengers surprised to find out boat going to OB – no announcement, no employee telling people. Too many employees seem to think helping customers is a nuisance rather than their job. Culture problem from the Board to management to rank and file.

  3. “Steamship Authority”
    Time to change this company, have no respect for the community.
    Expensive and inefficient services

  4. Senesco Responds to Steamship Authority

    June 22, 2018

    Senesco Marine, LLC, takes issue with recent reports regarding the work it performed in its Quonset Point, Rhode Island, shipyard for the Steamship Authority.

    Senesco proudly stands behind the repair work it performed for its valued customer on M/V Martha’s Vineyard at its dry-docking facility.


    Senesco has made itself available to the Steamship Authority for any assistance that it may require, and eagerly awaits the opportunity to meet with the Steamship Authority to address any ongoing concerns. Senesco has reached out to the Steamship Authority in an effort to schedule such a meeting, which is hoped can be arranged in the near future.

    Mike Foster, Vice President and General Manager

    For full letter, see

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