Steamship Authority Buys Another Vessel To Replace Aging Fleet

Jason Graziadei •

HOS North Star photo

Christmas came early for the Steamship Authority.

With a new federal grant worth more than $28 million, the Steamship Authority has announced that it will purchase a third offshore supply vessel to replace a boat in its aging fleet, the freight boat Sankaty.

The Steamship Authority’s Board of Governors voted unanimously on Monday to authorize the purchase of the HOS North Star from Hornbeck Offshore Services of Louisiana for $5.6 million. It is the third vessel the Steamship Authority has purchased from Hornbeck this year, following the acquisition of two other offshore supply vessels (OSV) in August.

The grant funding was made possible through an agreement between the Steamship Authority and the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority (CCRTA) that updated the distribution of multiple sources of federal grant funding available to Cape Cod and the islands. The grant will be applied to the conversion of the three OSVs for use by the Steamship Authority, and the proceeds from the boat line’s previous bond sale will be used for the costs related to acquisition.

“This purchase was possible thanks in large part to our ongoing and strong partnership with the CCRTA,” said Robert Davis, general manager of the Steamship Authority. “Being able to bring a third OSV into our fleet will strengthen the reliability of our service while giving the Steamship Authority the opportunity to investigate alternate propulsion opportunities more thoroughly, not only for new vessels but for our current fleet.”

The two OSVs acquired by the Steamship Authority in August - now named the M/V Aquinnah and M/V Monomoy - are replacing the boat line’s other freight vessels, the Gay Head and the Katama. A study commissioned by the Steamship Authority indicated its existing freight vessels as having less than five years remaining of “expected useful life.” The Steamship believes the new OSVs will be in service for at least 25 years. 

A recent study commissioned by the Steamship Authority identified the three freight vessels as having an expected useful life of less than five years. The three OSVs to be purchased by the Authority, by comparison, have an estimated remaining useful life of at least 25 years.

The Steamship Authority also intends to rename the HOS North Star - as it did for the other OSVs acquired in August - and the new name will be chosen by the Board of Governors at a future date. The board will chose from the slate of name suggestions the Steamship received as part of a naming contest held earlier this year that resulted in the other two OSVs being renamed the Aquinnah and Monomoy.

According to the Steamship, the memorandum of understanding with the CCRTA that provided the grant funding: “concerns federal funding from multiple sources: the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) National Transit Database program; the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act; the American Rescue Plan (ARPA); and the Bus and Bus Facilities Formula Grant Funds. Starting in the 2017 federal fiscal year, the Steamship Authority began reporting its passenger traffic to the National Transit Database, which resulted in additional federal funds being made available to transportation services in the Barnstable Urbanized Area. As a result, the CCRTA, which serves as the designated recipient for this funding, agreed to share a portion of the additional revenue directly with the Authority.”

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