Ferry Off Martha's Vineyard Loses Power, Leaving Passengers Stranded On Board

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A Massachusetts Steamship Authority ferry with more than 70 people on board lost power Saturday night as it made its way from Martha's Vineyard to Woods Hole.

The captain of the ferry Martha's Vineyard contacted the Coast Guard at 9 p.m. Saturday and the ship was towed back to Vineyard Haven over the course of five hours.

In a statement Sunday, Steamship Authority General Manager Robert Davis said the ferry lost power to the main engines just 15 minutes into its 45-minute trip.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Cynthia Oldham said they responded immediately after the captain reported they were "dead in the water." All passengers and crew remained on board, but were not hurt.

"We had the Coast Guard cutter Hammerhead and a response boat crew from Coast Guard station Woods Hole standing by on scene with the disabled vessel," Oldham said. "The motor vessel Woods Hole was also on standby to disembark passengers while they are anchored just in case they needed to do that, but they ended up not having to do that."

It took five hours to tow the ship back to the island. Once the ferry got back to Vineyard Haven at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, the passengers were put up in a hotel.

Davis said they still have not yet determined what led to the power failure.

The ferry had just returned to service earlier this month after undergoing $17.5 million renovation.

Likely a result of the power outage, the Sunday 10:45 a.m. departure from Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole was cancelled.

With reporting by WBUR's Paul Connearney. The audio atop the post includes interviews with Weekend Edition Sunday host Sharon Brody.


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