HMS Consulting reveals turmoil within Massachusetts’ Steamship Authority

21 January 2019 2 min. read
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Maritime consulting firm HMS Consulting has found that internal issues pose major problems for Massachusetts’ Steamship Authority (SSA). The organization provides transportation from mainland Massachusetts to its nearby islands, and from mainland Cape Cod to the island vacation hotspots of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

“A lack of a clear and aspirational [shared] vision,” has led to “competing factions within the organization,” HMS Consulting said. The report also cites a level of frugality that “hinders its ability to implement best practices and function properly.” 

SSA published the report, but pushed back against “penny pinching” claims. “Our dedication to fiscal responsibility has been a source of pride for our employees, but being prudent with our dollars has not led to a lack of resources for the crucial areas of maintenance and training,” Robert Davis, SSA general manager, said.

Study reveals turmoil within Massachusetts’ Steamship Authority

But safety requirements could also use a tune-up, so that they surpass the minimum requirements of the US Coast Guard, HMS Consulting found. The Associated Press reported that SSA cancelled 500 trips to Martha’s Vineyard in 2018. In March, a ferry with 72 passengers on board was stranded at sea for five hours after losing power. 

Davis admitted the study would be beneficial to SSA. “Where our fiscal strategy has affected us, which is demonstrated in the report, is in not adding resources, particularly in our management structure. We have, in some cases, had existing managers serving dual roles, and we will explore asking the board to add some new positions suggested in the report to the Authority," he said.

HMS Consulting is a subsidiary of HMS Global Maritime, a marine management company which owns and operates ferries, high-speed vessels, and cruises for federal, state, and local US governments. It also offers watercraft maintenance, management, and operational services, as well as vessel or fleet contracts to the US military.

In other maritime consultancy news, last year EY and Willis Towers Watson joined forces to launch a blockchain platform for marine insurance products and services.