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Ferry gets $500,000 overhaul; next generation to be electric

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Dec 28, 2020
Courtesy of: Mark Higgins The Margaret Chase Smith is pictured at Rockland Marine Dec. 22, where it is undergoing maintenance and repairs.

Augusta — The Margaret Chase Smith, which runs between Lincolnville and Islesboro, has been at Rockland Marine since Nov. 1 for regular maintenance and repair. She should be back in service, after $500,000 worth of work, on Jan. 22, 2021, according to Maine State Ferry Service Director Mark Higgins.

Higgins said all seven of the state's ferries are required to be hauled out of the water and undergo a hull exam every 30 months. The Lincolnville-Islesboro ferry was due for inspection over the summer, but MSFS applied for a 90-day extension in order not to have to take the boat out of service during a time of peak demand, he said.

An older ferry, which has been in service more than 30 years, the Margaret Chase Smith has received hull repairs, tank repairs, painting and general maintenance. For a boat that has been in service this long, Higgins said, the half-million-dollar cost for repairs is not unusual. The boat is expected to be in service another four or five years, he said, and planning for its replacement has already begun.

The new ferry, which will take around two years to build starting in 2025, will be a double-ended, all-electric vessel. Asked if it would be built in Maine, Higgins noted that the contract would be subject to a competitive RFP process.

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