Ferry Martha’s Vineyard no longer steamy, AC fixed(ish)

The ferry Martha's Vineyard has been plagued with problems since returning from an upgrade this winter.

Malfunctioning air conditioning zones that left portions of the MV Martha’s Vineyard muggy for nearly two weeks were repaired on July 12, according to Steamship Authority spokesman Sean Driscoll, who noted two compressors and “several circuit boards” required replacement. What has not yet been fixed is a clogged drain pipe inside the HVAC system that has caused water to spill from ceiling vents. Edgartown resident Linda Habekost posted a video on Facebook showing water trickling from such a vent. She told The Times a larger volume of water drained from the vent after the video was taken.

Driscoll wrote that the clogged drainpipe will be addressed “during an overnight period this week.”

The work can’t be done while the ferry is providing service, he wrote: “The needed replacement goes through an area that cannot be accessed during the day while passengers are on the boat.”

Another video surfaced on Facebook Tuesday, showing more water dripping from a ceiling vent aboard the Martha’s Vineyard. Dick Fiscus, who posted the footage, estimated water was coming out of the vent at a rate of 1.5 gallons per hour.

On Wednesday afternoon Driscoll said repairs would take place that evening.

As to the water, “[t]here’s no way to stop the dripping short of turning off the AC, so we’ll need to use the buckets until we can clean the pipes,” he wrote.

Trouble with the Martha’s Vineyard’s air conditioning system worsened after the first attempt at repair, and some passengers reported an “odd” odor, or one akin to an overused public restroom. Driscoll wrote, “to the best of my knowledge,” Steamship Authority personnel could not detect such an odor.

Some of the HVAC components replaced in order to restore air conditioning in parts of the vessel were worked on during the $18 million refurbishment the Martha’s Vineyard underwent earlier this year. The ferry has suffered a chain of glitches and failures since returning from Senesco Marine, where the overhaul was executed. Dozens of calls to Senesco Marine in Rhode Island and its parent company in New York have not been returned. In a statement to the Boston Globe in June, the company defended the work it performed on the ferry.

Driscoll told The Times the pipework connected with the clog was tinkered with during the overhaul.

“My understanding is that the piping etc. … was cut into and/or replaced during the midlife refurbishment,” he wrote in an email.



  1. It’s clear – at the end of the day no one really knows what Senesco did or didn’t do. An epic fail all around for the SSA to award them all of those repair contracts on multiple ferries. I would love for the Attorney General to peek at the awarding and performance of those contracts. Hopefully Senesco gets the “banned for life” designation.

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