Woods Hole strikes WHOI dock in ‘thick fog’

The Steamship Authority ferry Woods Hole, shown here departing Vineyard Haven Harbor, struck a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution dock Saturday morning. — Rich Saltzberg

Updated @2:10 pm

On Saturday the Steamship Authority ferry Woods Hole crashed into a dock that belongs to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll told The Times Monday the incident happened in “thick fog” however the cause remains part of an ongoing investigation. Details of the incident were slow to emerge and the damage the vessel caused to the WHOI dock remains unclear. In a text message to The Times Saturday afternoon, Driscoll acknowledged the Woods Hole  “allided with the WHOI dock” earlier that morning “while docking.” Driscoll went on to write that the Woods Hole “was not damaged but had to wait for a USCG inspection before services could resume.”

Petty Officer Briana Carter, a spokesperson for the Coast Guard’s 1st District, confirmed a “no sail” order had been given to the vessel that has since been lifted. Petty Officer Carter said the incident damaged the WHOI dock but couldn’t provide specifics on that damage. She also said the incident was classified as a marine casualty.

In response to an email inquiry about what damage the dock sustained, WHOI spokesperson Suzanne Pelisson provided a brief statement saying that the damage is still being evaluated. 

“Early Saturday morning, a Steamship Authority vessel impacted the WHOI Iselin dock while maneuvering,” Pelisson wrote. “No one was injured, and we are in discussions with SSA to evaluate the incident.”

In a follow up email response on Monday, Driscoll wrote that the incident took place at “approximately 6:15 am” and that the ferry missed the 8:35 am trip from Woods Hole and the 9:50 am trip from Vineyard Haven. 

Driscoll modified his previous response by stating the vessel only suffered “cosmetic damage” that was “limited to a paint transfer from the vessel.” Driscoll wrote that the crew was “subjected to alcohol tests, which all came back negative.”

Driscoll referred a question about what damage the dock sustained to WHOI. 

Meanwhile, the Oak Bluffs terminal is slated to open Tuesday, May 17, according to Driscoll. 

Updated with more details.



  1. How do these ships in GPS and radar enabled 2022, that run the exact same route everyday as if on rails manage to crash into a dock in “thick fog”??? We can land 747s all day long with zero visibility but a ferry boat traveling at 1/10th the speed can’t quite not crash.
    SSA: when you absolutely positively don’t really need to be very consistent all the time.

  2. From a seasoned boater; the pilot/captain as skilled as they may be are dealing with not just fog but wind. The side of these ferries act like sails. The area where the boat hit the dock is very tight. GPS May tell you your Lat/Lon but it doesn’t tell you a 30 KT gust is going to blow you into a pier!! The response time of this ferry is not even in the same book of Physics as a jet landing on a 2.5 mile runway. You can’t compare a Corvette to a bicycle!!!

Comments are closed.