SSA and Senesco Marine settle for $950,000

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The Steamship Authority board authorized the purchase of four new shuttle buses Tuesday. — George Brennan

The Steamship Authority has settled a dispute with the Rhode Island–based company that did a more than $18 million refurbishment of the ferry Martha’s Vineyard.

The settlement with Senesco Marine was announced after an executive session during the SSA board’s meeting Tuesday morning in Hyannis.

Senesco’s work was called into question when numerous defects arose after the vessel returned from its midlife overhaul. The Steamship Authority will pay $950,000 it owes Senesco on the contract with the agreement that Senesco will honor the warranties on its work.

The settlement stipulates the ferry line and the shipyard be bound by a non-disparagement agreement.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to accept the resignation of treasurer and comptroller Gerard Murphy, effective Dec. 31, so he may attend to family health issues.

During the board’s regular session, the board and Port Council were reshuffled. Barnstable representative Robert Jones is 2019 chairman; the Vineyard’s Marc Hanover is vice chairman, and Falmouth’s Elizabeth Gladfelter is secretary. For the Port Council, George Balco of Tisbury is 2019 chairman; New Bedford Port director Edward Anthes-Washburn remains vice chairman, and Robert Huss of Oak Bluffs is secretary.

Woods Hole reconstruction project manager Bill Cloutier gave a progress report. A canopy that had been promised by Christmas to protect passengers from the elements may not happen by then, Cloutier said.

The board unanimously approved a recommendation by general manager Robert Davis for $2,463,663 for an overhaul of the MV Sankaty. When told only one shipyard out of nine opted to bid on the project, Hanover questioned why. Neither Davis nor Carl Walker, director of maintenance and engineering, could answer the question.

“Does it make any sense to send it out to bid again?” New Bedford representative Moira Tierney asked.

Davis said no, because doing so would expose the bid price of Thames Shipyard unfairly to a new round of bidding, and because the lead time of certain parts integral for the overhaul is long. He also said it was possible nobody would bid and the Thames bid could be lost.

The board unanimously approved a request by Jack Sheeran, new owner of Freedom Cruise Line in Harwich Port, to beef up per-trip passenger volume to Nantucket from 80 to 99.

Davis said the proposed change received several letters of support.

Murray Scudder, vice president of operations for Hy-Line Cruises, stood up in the audience to support Sheeran’s request.

The board also unanimously approved the $1.8 million purchase of four new 46-passenger transit shuttle buses. Two bus manufacturers are being evaluated to fulfill the purchase: New Flyer and Eldorado National, both of which offer low-floor buses with perimeter seating. Steamship Authority spokesman Sean Driscoll told The Times after the meeting that customers expressed a strong desire to maintain perimeter seating in Steamship Authority buses, and the selection of the two particular bus makers is a direct response to customer preference. Steamship brass have reached out to vendors for both manufacturers, and expect replies on pricing, warranties, and options in a week.