Steamship Names First Chief Operating Officer

Nantucket Current •

The Steamship Authority on Wednesday named Mark Higgins as the boat line's first chief operating officer. 

Below is the Steamship's full announcement: 

Mark Higgins

Mark Higgins, former director of the Maine State Ferries Service, will be joining the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority as the organization’s chief operating officer (COO). His first day will be in early April.

The announcement of Higgins’ appointment was made Wednesday morning at the monthly meeting of the Authority’s Board, which was held at the Authority’s Administrative Office in Falmouth.

Higgins has more than 30 years of commercial and public sector leadership experience. He most recently spent more than five years at Maine State Ferry Service, where he provided oversight of the operations and directed the staff of 100 to deliver service to six island municipalities. During his tenure, he worked to modernize ferry operations, including overseeing the design and construction of one of the nation’s first ocean-going hybrid electric passenger and vehicle ferries.

“Attracting an accomplished maritime professional of Mark’s caliber to the Steamship Authority underscores our commitment to enhance and evolve service offerings as we chart a course for the future,” said Robert B. Davis, general manager of the Steamship Authority. “His decades of experience, especially his tenure with the State of Maine and his recent work to oversee the development of a hybrid ferry, will help advance many of our ongoing efforts to increase our sustainable and responsible business practices.”

As chief operating officer, Higgins will be responsible for planning, directing, and overseeing all activities of the Marine Operations and Shoreside Operations departments, the Engineering Department, and the Operations and Communication Center. Higgins will work closely with the general manager to ensure that the vessel and shoreside operations teams collaborate to keep the Authority’s operations on schedule and manage communication channels, maintain and improve efficiencies and focus on development plans.

“I look forward to join the Steamship Authority and participate in its mission to provide sustainable lifeline service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket,” Higgins said. “My experience in hybrid and electric ferries has shown me the immense potential for cleaner and more efficient transportation. In addition, my expertise in ferry operations will be highly beneficial as we strive to plan and develop innovative and sustainable approaches to meet the needs of our customers and the island communities we serve.”

Creating the COO position was one of the 10 recommendations contained in the comprehensive review of the Authority’s operations performed in 2018 by HMS Consulting, Glosten Associates, and Rigor Analytics. In public workshops held in 2019 to discuss the implementation of the HMS recommendations, the Board Members acknowledged that the COO position was an important step to consider, but they recommended the Authority continue to direct its focus on filling other positions and implementing the other process-based management recommendations into its operations.

The COO search was suspended during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Board requested the efforts to incorporate a COO into the Authority’s management structure be renewed in 2022. A national search was held for the position.

A Maine native, Higgins is an alumnus of Maine Maritime Academy, where he graduated with a degree in marine engineering technology. He has held various positions within global maritime operations, including at General Dynamics, Edison Chouest Offshore, and Tide Water Marine International. He is a graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy and holds the following U.S. Coast Guard licenses: Chief Engineer 3000 ITS of Motor Vessels of Any Horsepower; Second Assistant Engineer of Motor Vessels of Any Horsepower; and Third Assistant Engineer of Steam Vessels of Any Horsepower.

He and his wife, Heather, have five grown children.

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