The ferry Captain Richard G. Spear is at Rockland Marine Corp. where damage to one rudder is visible and the loss of another. Stephen Betts/The Courier-Gazette

ROCKLAND — The state ferry service’s newest vessel suffered significant damage when it struck a ledge off Vinalhaven during a run from Vinalhaven to Rockland on Wednesday.

The starboard rudder of the Capt. Richard G. Spear was damaged and the port rudder was broken off when the ferry struck the ledge. There was also damage to both propellers, according to a release from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Maine State Ferry Service Director William Geary declined Thursday to discuss the cause of the accident. Geary, who was hired in June, was out of town when reached by telephone.

The person captaining the Spear on Wednesday is a long-time ferry service employee with experience making the run between Vinalhaven and Rockland, the DOT said in the release.

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the accident.

The Spear was pulling away from Vinalhaven shortly after 10:30 a.m., about 90 minutes before high tide, when it struck the ledge. There were 65 passengers and five crew members aboard, and no one was injured.


Rockland City Councilor Adam Lachman was one of the passengers. He said the vessel hit the ledge hard and the boat rocked for about 15 seconds afterward.

“We had just left Vinalhaven. It was a ledge outside of Sands Cove which is adjacent to Vinalhaven’s Carver’s Harbor. It was quite foggy. Within about 15 to 20 minutes we were back at the ferry terminal and they offloaded cars and passengers. The next boat arrived on schedule and the 1 p.m. left with many of the passengers who had been on board,” Lachman said.

The Spear returned to Vinalhaven to unload passengers and then sailed to Rockland Marine Corp. shipyard repair facility in Rockland, where it was inspected Thursday. The Everett Libby did the Spear’s runs Thursday.

The Spear was already scheduled to be out of service next week for a routine U.S. Coast Guard inspection, the DOT said Thursday. The Capt. E. Frank Thompson and the Capt. Charles Philbrook will operate scheduled runs between Rockland and Vinalhaven until the Spear returns to service.

The Spear has been serving Vinalhaven since March 2022. The $10.2 million ferry was launched on April 9, 2021, at the Washburn & Doughty shipyard in East Boothbay, but the vessel was not delivered to the Maine State Ferry Service dock in Rockland until the middle of January 2022.

The ferry can carry 250 passengers and 23 motor vehicles.

The 15-mile ferry run from Vinalhaven to Rockland takes about 90 minutes. The ferry service has been hampered by staffing shortages, and pay has been cited as a reason. Captains make about $70,000 annually, not including overtime.

The 104-foot-long ferry Everett Libby ran aground on June 3, 2010, shortly after leaving Vinalhaven. No one was injured.

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