SSA Ferry Ready for Sea Journey from Mississippi to Fairhaven

The ferry Island Home is set to make the long trip home.

Steamship Authority general manager Wayne Lamson said this week that the double-ended, $32 million car and passenger ferry is due to leave the VT Halter shipyard at Moss Point, Miss., this weekend to make the 2,000-mile trip to the Steamship Authority maintenance facility in Fairhaven.

The Island Home was originally due for delivery in June of 2006, but construction was set back some seven months by Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, just after work had begun on the ferry.

"It really has gone pretty smoothly, considering what they went through down there," Mr. Lamson said.

On her trip home, the ferry will be captained by personnel from the Mississippi shipyard, who will guide her through the Gulf of Mexico, around Key West, Fla. and around Long Island Sound before heading into the port of Fairhaven. Although subject to change due to weather conditions and fuel consumption, the trip is expected to take seven to 10 days and four stops are planned along the way: Tampa, Fla., Port Canaveral, Fla., Moorehead City, N.C. and Cape May, N.J.

Once she arrives at Fairhaven, probably on Feb. 5 or 6, Mr. Lamson said sea trials will begin with boat line personnel. A media day is planned for Feb. 26 in Fairhaven. The commissioning is planned for Saturday, March 3 in Vineyard Haven.

Mr. Lamson said by all accounts, the new ferry is a keeper. "There is always something with a new ferry and we expect to have a punch list of things that will need to be done," he said. "But from what I hear, this is going to be a very good boat and people are going to love it."

The Island Home is scheduled to begin regular service on the Vineyard-Woods Hole route in early March following the commissioning.