Parks & Rec Director: Deferred Maintenance Makes Ferry Season Unpredictable

During Wednesday nights Parks & Rec board meeting via Zoom, director Joe Siciliano gave an update on Islander II ferry, which has been out of service since the third week of June, resulting in a modified ferry schedule.

This weekend there will not be ferry service to Great Captain Island, but the Island Beach service will run every half hour.

The Islander II is in the shipyard in Bridgeport for repairs.

Siciliano said the boat had been inspected in the spring by the Coast Guard, and again by the Coast Guard two weeks before it began operating in Greenwich in June.

Islander II in Bridgeport earlier this week. Contributed photo

“Throughout the first couple weekends of operation, we had a mechanical issue that created a breach in the hull of the boat, which means that we had a leak,” he said. “That’s a mandatory reporting to the Coast Guard, and of course their usual course of action is to say you can’t operate until you make the appropriate repair.”

The boat has been in the Bridgeport shipyard since last Friday.

The Parks & Rec operations manager, the shipyard manager and the Coast Guard have all been involved in a conversation about how to make the repair.

Siciliano said next steps will be to gather materials necessary to make the repair and to wait for a spot on the dry dock.

He said the propellers and propeller shafts for the boat currently in the dry dock are at the machine shop being replaced.

“Once they get that equipment back, they’ll put the propellers back on the boat that’s currently on dry dock and we hope we’re in the next position (for dry dock) Right now it looks like another week to 10 days for that to happen.”

Siciliano said he planned to talk talk to the shipyard manager to alter the schedule.

“Every week that goes by in a 15-week season – we’re losing time every week. There was nothing visible that we would have had this problem prior to operation or while we were at the shipyard in the spring. It just happened. These are the types of things that happen with older steel boats.”

“This is the reason why through our budgetary process, we had the ferry report done a couple years ago. We started to ask for equipment replacement, which means engine shafts and propellers. In this case, if we’d gone through that process already, and replaced the engine shaft and propeller on this boat, we would not be in this predicament we are in today.”

“We can’t keep deferring capital maintenance on these boats, because it becomes too unpredictable during the running season on whether we’ll have a breakdown or not. We’ll keep pursuing those dollars.”

Slide from the First Selectman’s capital budget presentation in January 2021.