Fastest SSA ferry stuck in Fairhaven with ailing engines

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The Iyanough, which runs fast ferry trips between Hyannis and Nantucket, won't be making runs any time soon. - Rich Saltzberg

The MV Iyanough, the Steamship Authority’s high speed ferry between Hyannis and Nantucket, was set to return to service this week after annual maintenance work but is now sidelined indefinitely with mysterious engine problems.

Trouble arose during a sea trial on March 28. SSA personnel brought the four-engine Iyanough “up to higher RPMs” and “a low lube oil alarm” triggered on two just rebuilt MTU engines, SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll told The Times.

“The engines throttled down as a normal response to the alarm,” he said.

MTU technicians and SSA engineering staff spent the weekend examining the engines at SSA’s Fairhaven facility but couldn’t isolate the problem. As a result, the Iyanough remains out of service.

“The boat is at the dock and we’re not moving from the dock,” Driscoll said.

To cover for the Iyanough, the SSA hired fast ferry operator SeaStreak, which has provided the MV Wall Street. That vessel or another chartered fast ferry will substitute for the Iyanough until the engine glitches have been diagnosed and remedied, Driscoll said.

Asked if one or both engines suffered heat damage, Driscoll emailed that because diagnostics were still ongoing, he cannot comment “on any evidence, or not, of heat damage.”

Asked the same question, MTU America spokesman Bryan Magnum said heat damage that might have cause engine seizure wasn’t an issue. “None of the vessel’s engines seized, and there was no damage to the engines or anything else,” he wrote in an email. “This was a case where the engines weren’t performing up to expectations, and our engine diagnostics indicated that they should come offline so we could check them as a precaution. We expect to complete our inspection and get them back online soon.”

Magnum went on to write he expects an update from field technicians shortly.

The MV Iyanough crashed into a jetty in Hyannis in 2017, marking the most serious accident in SSA history. Driscoll said the vessel was exhaustively checked following that incident and no damage to the blocks or other engine parts was found. Furthermore, he said the relevant engine blocks in use during that accident are gone — both replaced in the recent overhaul. SSA minutes indicate the engines were overhauled on a $979,646 contract with Steward & Stevenson Power Products LLC.