An alert sent out by the Steamship Authority indicating the MV Katama suffered a mechanical problem late in the day Monday was erroneous, according to SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll. The message was “put out in haste by an agent,” Driscoll said. At 5:20 pm Monday, the vessel was slated to occupy one of the two Vineyard Haven Terminal slips for a “routine” electrical inspection, Driscoll said. Thereafter the vessel was anticipated to make crossing “as needed” but wasn’t scheduled for service for the remainder of the evening, Driscoll said. The U.S. Coast Guard recently informed The Times that a decision to send the vessel back in for additional work during a sea trial in January was jointly made by the Coast Guard and the Steamship Authority.
“During the sea trial that SSA conducted for the USCG to approve repairs carried out on the vessel’s steering system, a mechanical concern was noted by both SSA maintenance personnel and the USCG Marine Inspector onboard,” Petty Officer Nicole Groll emailed. “SSA personnel and the USCG concurred that additional repair was needed prior to the vessel returning to passenger service. Those repairs were carried out throughout the evening and accepted by the USCG the next day.”
The Katama suffered a steering failure on Dec. 23 that temporarily waylaid those onboard. The vessel was helped back to port by two tugs from Vineyard Haven. It subsequently departed for the SSA maintenance facility in Fairhaven, and following repair work there, underwent the sea trial that was jointly aborted.