SSA aims to bring back the Katama Friday

The MV Katama was expected to return to service Friday, but failed sea trials on Thursday. - Rich Saltzberg

Since a steering malfunction sidelined it on Dec. 23, the Steamship Authority has worked to get the MV Katama back in service. Initial repairs were done while the freight ferry was in Slip 1 at the Vineyard Haven terminal. From there the Katama went to the SSA Fairhaven facility for an examination and additional repairs. 

“[V]arious components of the steering system were replaced in the vessel (namely the jockey bar and various bushings and pins), but there was no other outstanding issue discovered with the vessel,” SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll emailed. “A Coast Guard sea trial is scheduled for Thursday, and the vessel is planned to return to service Friday.”

SSA board chair Marc Hanover said the Katama and the MV Gay Head, which recently had throttle problems, are more prone to wear and tear because of their age. “You’ve got to understand, these boats are old,” he said. “They’re well beyond their projected lifespan. They were long in the tooth when the SSA acquired them.”

The SSA acquired the Katama in 1988 and the Gay Head in 1989 as used vessels, according to the SSA website. Both were offshore supply ships the SSA converted to fit its needs.


  1. The Katama was built in 1982 and began SSA service in fall 1986. The Gay Head was built in 1981 and began SSA service in fall 1987. The Steamship Authority’s website has the years wrong, but newspaper accounts confirm the above. Love from all the ferry nerds!

  2. Incidentally, newspaper accounts also state that the Katama, in her original Gulf of Mexico service, was barely used—operated for only around 90 hours.

  3. Long in the tooth indeed… if the the Katama and Gay Head were that old when they were retrofitted, it would not appear prudent as ” the lifeline to the islands ” where ” Safety is the number one concern ” to acquire vessels that were past their prime with questions of being seaworthy or dependable. Fortunately this appears not to be the case. For most of their lifespan both have operated quite well I think… It appears to me that the ones who are long in the tooth at this point are the SSA executives who really seem unable to operate and communicate effectively. Time for a change at the top level of management.

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