SSA authorizes Nantucket barge service

The SSA will allow freight service to Nantucket via a barge. -Rich Saltzberg

The Steamship Authority board unanimously authorized a temporary license for 41 North Offshore barge service to Nantucket on Friday at a special one-item meeting. The board had previously paused forward momentum for the pilot barge operation in order to gain more knowledge about 41 North Offshore, a New Bedford maritime company that the board chose after issuing an RFP for Nantucket freight service. That service is primarily meant to plug a huge hole in UPS service to Nantucket that arose after the shipping company failed to make its summer reservations in a timely manner and lost lots of truck space on ferries. The approved barge service will convey UPS trucks back and forth between New Bedford and Nantucket. 

SSA general counsel Terence Kenneally told the board SSA staff had the opportunity to confidentially review 41 North Offshore financials, examine their vessels, and review their U.S. Coast Guard documentation.

“We think they’re a good outfit,” Kenneally said. “They do regular business with us.” Kenneally said the company ships aggregate material and prefabricated houses by barge to Nantucket. SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll later told The Times 41 North Offshore pays the SSA dockage fees to bring these materials to Nantucket. 

Kenneally also told the board the new barge service would serve to supplement SSA service, not detract from it. Impacts on the SSA had been a concern at the last meeting, when the board opted to slow down the license issuance process and gather more information. 

The board took up no other business at the meeting.