Updated 2:30 pm
The Steamship Authority has hired four new employees, including a health, safety, quality and environmental manager, recommended in a top-to-bottom review of ferry service operations after last spring’s string of ferry breakdowns.
Angela Sampson was officially hired for that position during the SSA board’s monthly meeting Tuesday in New Bedford. Sampson told The Times she served as an environmental officer for Celebrity Cruises. In that capacity she regularly flew to international ports to meet Celebrity cruise liners, she said.
The new hires were announced to the SSA during a meeting of the board in New Bedford Tuesday. They include Janice Kennefick as human resources director, Capt. Jordan Baptiste as port captain, and Mark Amundsen as director of marine operations.
The director of marine operations was also recommended by HMS Consulting after its review.
“I was extremely pleased with the quality of candidates we had for these positions,” general manager Robert Davis said. “Being able to choose from so many highly qualified individuals ensured that the authority is getting the very best of the best to join our team.”
Baptiste is a 2000 graduate of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, and a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to be joining the SSA,” he said in a prepared statement. “This has truly been a dream come true for me, to return home and make the transition from a seagoing career to a shoreside role, where I can continue to utilize my training, education, and leadership experience to make a positive impact on the maritime industry,” he wrote. Baptiste told The Times he is a fifth-generation Islander who originally hails from Vineyard Haven. His family presently lives in Clearwater, Fla., and is in the process of moving back to Massachusetts, he said.
Amundsen brings 30 years of experience to the SSA, including his most recent experience as an operations manager for Singapore Technologies Marine, operating ferry services in Europe, a release states.
Baptiste and Sampson started their employment with the SSA Tuesday, Kennefick plans to start April 29, and Amundsen plans to start May 6.
The board did not vote to approve any of the hires Tuesday. SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll told The Times board votes for those positions aren’t required.
MV Martha’s Vineyard into dry-dock
The board voted unanimously to approve a $589,330 overhaul of the MV Martha’s Vineyard. Thames Shipyard of New London, Conn., was the only bid received out of 10 shipyards solicited, Carl Walker, SSA director of engineering and maintenance, told the board. Walker had his hands full with the vessel in 2018. Upon returning from an $18 million overhaul last winter at Senesco Marine, the Martha’s Vineyard suffered chronic glitches that pulled it in and out of service for months and put the SSA and the North Kingston, R.I., shipyard at legal odds with each other. Ultimately. the two avoided a courtroom battle after the SSA forked over $950,000 in settlement deal. To date, the SSA has declined to explain the settlement.
Davis told the board the ferry will head to Connecticut sometime in September or October.
Board chairman Robert Jones, Barnstable’s representative, asked whether the SSA focused on two shipyards for maintenance work. Walker said there were only two shipyards north of New York suitable for SSA needs. While SSA work could also be done in Boston, for a shipyard or shipyards there, it would not be a good economic bet for them to tie up their large slips and docks with SSA vessels, he said.
Despite being the only bidder, Davis said Thames bid $300,000 under the projected cost.
After the meeting, he told The Times Thames has worked on the Martha’s Vineyard “numerous times.”
While the ferry underwent in-house work at the SSA Fairhaven facility last fall, Davis said the Thames work will be the first outside overhaul of the Martha’s Vineyard since the midlife refurbishment at Senesco and the related warranty and mop-up work in the aftermath of that refurbishment.
Asked if the SSA fears Seneco will no longer work on the Martha’s Vineyard, Driscoll stepped in and characterized the question as “rank speculation” the SSA wouldn’t comment on.
Senesco Marine could not be immediately reached for comment.
Asked if Senesco was invited to bid, Davis said, “They received a packet and then they asked questions, and then they did not submit a bid.”
Updated with new details from Tuesday’s meeting after initial story was posted at 11 am – Ed.