The vessel Uncatena, the smallest and least celebrated member of the Steamship Authority’s fleet, is slated for sale this summer, pending approval of the board of governors next week.

Barry O. Fuller, general manager of the boat line, yesterday said his staff had already sent out advertisements to local newspapers, and said he hopes the boat can be sold soon after the new vessel Martha’s Vineyard comes on line at the end of this year.

“The Uncatena no longer fits into our plan. We can’t afford the luxury of keeping an extra boat,” Mr. Fuller said yesterday, noting that the SSA soon will add the vessels Martha’s Vineyard and Sankaty. “The management staff is satisfied that with seven boats in our fleet, we’;; be able to address transportation needs for at least three to five years.”

The SSA’s fleet currently includes the passenger ferries Islander, Nantucket, Eagle and Uncatena, and the freight boats Katama and Gay Head.

Yesterday, Vineyard SSA governor Ronald H. Rappaport said he was not aware until this week that the SSA management had taken steps to advertise the Uncatena. When he learned that the advertisements had already been sent out, including a schedule for when bids can be submitted, he requested that the issue be put on the agenda of next week’s monthly governors’ meeting, which will be held on Nantucket Thursday.

“There has been no vote taken by the members on this,” Mr. Rappaport said. “My understanding is that this is being recommended by management, because when the MV Martha’s Vineyard comes on line, we’ll no longer need the Uncatena.”

Mr. Rappaport said he has been told it costs more than $500,000 each year to keep the Uncatena running.

Mr. Fuller said he was planning to use the Uncatena as a back-up vessel upon delivery of the MV Martha’s Vineyard. But then the SSA bought the large freight boat Sankaty, and the Uncatena will not be needed, he said.

The Uncatena, which is generally regarded as an uncomfortable and homely boat, has never been a favorite with Vineyarders or Nantucket people. In fact, the vessel is not very affectionately known as the Juncatena, or sometimes, the Hunk-a-junka.

The Uncatena began its uncelebrated tenure with the Steamship Authority on July 29, 1965. She arrived as a much different boat than she is now. Today the Uncatena is about 200 feet long and 40 feet wide and carries approximately 700 passengers. When she arrived in 1965, she was a more compact vessel, just 149 feet from bow to stern. Her first voyage from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven took just 30 minutes.

In 1971, the SSA board of governors decided the little Uncatena was too small. So she was cut in half, and 52 feet were spliced into her midsection. Since then, she has not had an easy time, with her smelly exhaust system having to be fixed in 1975, and her nose being dented when she plowed into the corner of the dock in Woods Hole in 1976. She also once ungracefully backed into a small sailboat in Nantucket harbor. Fortunately no one was injured.

Despite her reputation, the Uncatena is a favorite for some.

“As a captain, she was my favorite boat,” Mr. Fuller said, recalling that his first assignment with the Steamship Authority was to pilot the Uncatena into Hyannis harbor. He also said he once took the scrappy boat through ice from Woods Hole to Nantucket. It took 16 hours.

Mr. Fuller declined to guess how much the SSA could get for the Uncatena, but said he has occasionally received inquiries about the vessel.

“Someone once needed a passenger vessel to operate in Nigeria, for instance,” he said.

In addition to newspapers, Mr. Fuller said the Steamship Authority will advertise the Uncatena in trade magazines and journals.

According to the advertisements sent to local newspapers, the bids for the Uncatena will be opened at 2 p.m. on August 11.