After HVAC repairs, is mold next for the Martha’s Vineyard?

It's time to make those summer ferry reservations. - Gabrielle Mannio

Updated July 21

Water finally stopped trickling from ceiling vents aboard the MV Martha’s Vineyard after the Steamship Authority made HVAC repairs Wednesday night. Dripping water and a loss of air conditioning beset portions of the ferry for almost two weeks. Repairs on July 12 brought the air conditioning back in service, but the water issue, which stemmed from a clogged drain pipe, required more involved work that could not be executed while passengers rode the vessel. Passengers reported unpleasant odors while the air conditioning was down, but Steamship Authority personnel received no reports of any odors, nor could they identify anything that might be generating odors, Steamship Authority spokesman Sean Driscoll previously told The Times.

“No mold was discovered,” Driscoll wrote in an email Thursday. “Some stained tiles have been or will be replaced.”

Driscoll later clarified in a telephone conversation that mold wasn’t found after visual inspections undertaken as a crew replaced and rerouted drain pipe.

“This hasn’t been going on long enough that we feel mold is an issue,” he said.

“Perfect conditions for mold,” Dan Caouette, owner of Pocasset-based Mold Pros, told The Times. Caouette said somebody should have been conducting air tests for mold in 24 hours or less. “They should be testing. I’d pull those ceiling panels and test,” he said.

There is no indication at this time that the Steamship Authority intends to conduct mold tests.

The Martha’s Vineyard underwent an $18 million midlife refurbishment last winter at Senesco Marine in North Kingstown, R.I., only to return with a litany of problems. The Steamship Authority has initiated warranty claims for some issues, such as the vessel’s bow door, but it’s unclear how many of the ferry’s recent glitches and failures can be attributed to work Senesco did and what blame may rest with the Steamship Authority itself.

The Steamship Authority has not indicated whether the problems with the air conditioning system would trigger a Senesco Marine warranty claim. “Too soon to know,” Driscoll wrote, “but it’s something we’re looking at.”

Updated with new information from the SSA and a mold expert. – Ed.



  1. Typical SSA response: What mold? No testing, as the expert recommends. We don’t deserve this SSA management with heads in the sand (among other places).

  2. No, I don’t believe mold is next for our esteemed Mariners of the SSA, it will more likely be an outbreak of respiratory illnesses, a sort of rolling Legionaires Disease factory, with the attendant lawsuits. And, of course, the Board of Governors will blame it on the manufacturer.

  3. Fred Condon, Edgartown
    The Amount of money being spent for a “Totally Comprehensive” review seems quite inadequate. Hope that a Minimal SWOT analysis is not the Driver? Perhaps in their wisdom they are trying to save wherever possible because they understand that the Changes that have to be made will be extremely expensive. Is there $ in the budget to fund the Suggested/Required remedies? Curious – Will this “review” include evaluation of Governance? Still can’t find the Bios of the Governors? Not sure that any of them have the experience and/or knowledge required to “Govern” a $100,000,000.00 Entity – To have hired a new CEO (from within – an accountant) and not even look to interview external candidates confirms just how insular their thinking is!! Quite concerning- I doubt that they would suggest a review of their Governance – What metrics do they use to evaluate their performance? Are other similar operations visited? What is on their list of “FUTURE” Objectives – not remedial – Where is the VISION to come from – Is there a Strategic Plan? Has it been communicated to the Stakeholders? Think – Totally updated website, ability to buy and use prepaid passenger ticketing, Premium pricing – as airlines, ball parks, etc.
    July 22, 2018 – 1:45pm

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